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Makers of National History 

Edited by W. H. HUTTON, B.D. 


3s. 6d. net 





BEECHING, M.A., D.Litt. 


Other volumes in preparation 

Pkcto by 

Q _, Poulain **, Sens 

(From the Cathedral Church of Sens) 








No 1 AMEN CORNER, E.G. 1910 

AND NEW YORK . . 1910 


IT is intended in this series to commemorate im- 
portant men whose share in the making of national 
history seems to need a more complete record than 
it has yet received. In some cases the character, 
the achievements, or the life, have been neglected 
till modern times ; in most cases new evidence has 
recently become available ; in all cases a new estimate 
according to the historical standards of to-day seems 
to be called for. The aim of the series is to illustrate 
the importance of individual contributions to national 
development, in action and in thought. The foreign 
relations of the country are illustrated, the ecclesias- 
tical position, the evolution of party, the meaning 
and influence of causes which never succeeded. No 
narrow limits are assigned. It is hoped to throw 
light upon English history at many different periods, 
and perhaps to extend the view to peoples other than 
our own. It will be attempted to show the value in 
national life of the many different interests that have 
employed the service of man. 

The authors of the lives are writers who have a 
special knowledge of the periods to which the subjects 
of their memoirs belonged. 




THIS biography is the result of an endeavour 
to sift and restate what has long been known about 
the great Englishman whose life has been written, 
perhaps, more frequently than that of any other 
hero of the Middle Age. 

Twenty-one years ago I published on the same 
subject a volume (S. Thomas of Canterbury, D. Nutt, 
second edition, 1899) of translated extracts from the 
contemporary biographers and other chroniclers. I 
have not now used the translations I then made, but 
have either translated the Latin anew or used, with 
revision, the translations made more than sixty years 
ago by Mr. R. H. Froude and Dr. J. A. Giles, to whom, 
(the latter in spite of some unforgotten blunders), 
in the nineteenth century we owe the revival of 
interest in the great chancellor and archbishop. 
Perhaps the Early Victorian style of some of these 
versions may even be preferred to the Wardour Street 
English of a modern translator. The importance of 
the original biographies themselves is so great, 
second indeed only to that of their subject, that I 
have given to them a separate treatment at the end 
of this book. 

I have added foot-notes of detailed reference only 
to letters quoted or when there was some special 
reason for observing the particular authority who 
was responsible for the original statement. To have 
mentioned each biographer who stated each fact 
would have been of interest only to special students, 


who would already know without being told. But 
the analysis and criticism of the Becket literature 
is a fascinating subject in itself. 

A few pages in this book have been already printed 
in past years in the Guardian and the Church Quarterly 
Review; I thank the Editors for sanctioning the 
reprinting here. 

Becket is worthy of a biography in several volumes. 
This book claims only to have been written from the 
original literary sources and after visits to the chief 
scenes of its hero's life, and to tell briefly the tale of a 
full and passionate life. 

I should like to add one plea that all who read 
this book would set themselves to stamp out the use, 
for the family name of the archbishop, of the 
barbarism " A Becket " : the "A" has no contem- 
porary, or early, authority whatever, and is as ugly 
as it is useless. 


5. Barnabas, 19 JO. 





Page 16, line 12, /oy Justician read Justinian. 

Page 17, line 32, insert comma after death. 

Page 81, line 5, insert not after but. 

Page 136, last line, for healing read heating. 

Page 159, headline, for gratitude read ingratitude. 

Page 267, line 31, for Bossnet read Bossuet. 






who would already know without being told. But 
the analysis and criticism of the Becket literature 
is a fascinating subject in itself. 

A few pages in this book have been already printed 
in past years in the Guardian and the Church Quarterly 

T?0**!oiin T flianlr tVio TTHit/vrc ir\T conrf mnincr thf> 



















INDEX 291 



By the kind permission of 
Messrs. J. M. Dent & Co. 



Chiefly from the Work of Professor Willis 


A The Nave. 

B Lady Chapel. 

C Chapel of S. Benedict, with S. Blaise above. 

D Chapel of S. Michael. 

E Choir. 

F Presbytery. 

G Chapel of S. Anselm. 

H Chapel of S. Andrew. 

K Trinity Chapel with the Crypt underneath. 

1 Door of the Cloisters. 

2 Door of the Cathedral. 

3 Staircase to the roof. 

4 Staircase to the Crypt. 

5 Staircase to the Choir. 

6 Pillar where the Archbishop stood. 

7 Spot where he fell. 

8 Spot where the body lay during the night. 

9 Spot where the body was buried in the Crypt. 

10 High Altar. 

11 Altar of S. Alphege. 

12 Altar of S. Dunstan. 

13 Patriarchal Chair. 

14 Altar of S. John Baptist (in the Crypt). 

15 Altar of S. Augustine (in the Crypt). 

The course of the Archbishop. 

The course of the Knights. 

The portion of the Cathedral in lighter tint is the conjectural 
restoration of Lanfranc's Church. 





AMONG Makers of National History may certainly 
be ranked the saints of the Christian Church. Moham- 
medanism and Hinduism,' and other religions, too, 
have had their great typical figures who have deeply 
influenced the ideals, and to some extent the history, 
of the peoples of the East. But wherever Christianity 
has gone the influence of its heroes has been even more 
profound. They have exemplified national charac- 
teristics while they have elevated the nations and Medieval* 
inspired them with a higher impulse of consecration Christian- 
or sacrifice. All over Europe history has been made ^ 
or modified by men and women whose life was 
moulded by the doctrine of Christ ; and beyond the 
bounds of our continent the progress of the world 
has been as strongly affected by missions as it has 
by crusades, by a Francisco Xavier and a Livingstone, 
as by a Warren Hastings or a Captain Cook. Most 
of all, perhaps, was this true in the Middle Ages, when 
a society scarcely emerged from barbarism rallied 
to the voice of " picturesque and emancipated 
individuals." They championed romantic causes: 
they indicated principles that had been passed by in 

The history of the Middle Age is full of such lives. 
The history that was then written is, indeed, largely 
biography ; and the most tame and jejune of mon- 
astic chroniclers will show a spark of fire when he 

i (3316) 


names the heroes he has known. In England the 
names of Cuthbert and Oswald and Dunstan, as of 
Henry II and Simon de Montfort and Edward I, 
have been kept alive by this personal touch of 
enthusiasm in those who wrote of them ; and every- 
where about the country local legend has preserved 
and embellished the memory not only of its heroes but 
of its saints. Chiefest among all these, there can be 
no doubt at all, stands Thomas of Canterbury, 
incomparably the most popular English hero of the 
Middle Age ; and he was a hero because he was 
regarded as a saint. 

Of few characters in all history is the life-story 
better known. At least ten contemporary biographies 
are extant, and it would be easy to increase that 
number if we counted the fragments of original 
information in other writings of the age. Besides 
this, we have an almost unique collection of letters 
relating to Becket, written by himself, his friends and 
his enemies. Of no other personage in the Middle 
Ages would it be so easy to compile the " Life and 
Letters." The fact that the material is so large and 
that it has been familiar for so long does not render 
the task of the modern biographer altogether an easy 
one. He must disclaim any idea of throwing a new 
light on a career that has long been so well known. 
But the interest of the life is still so fresh and vigorous, 
it is so typical an example of medieval interest and 
passion, and it is even to-day so little removed from 
a concern with problems that have not ceased to be 
of importance in national life, that it may well be 
told again, and that, if it may be, without political 
or ecclesiastical prejudice, and with the sole aim of 
setting forth the truth. 


Thomas of London, for so he called himself all his 
life, even after he was archbishop of Canterbury, 

was born on December 21st, S. Thomas's Day, most His birtn 

Dec 21 
probably in 1118, and was baptised after vespers IXI 8 

that evening. His father was Gilbert Becket, a 
Norman descended from a family of gentle blood, 
settled at Thierceville, who had come from Rouen, 
where he had traded, to settle in London as a citizen 
and merchant. His mother was a native of Caen, 
of burgher birth, and named Mahatz (or Matilda) or, 
according to one writer, Roesia. The house in which 
he was born was in Cheapside ; and all through his 
life he was proud of being a Londoner. Though some 
called him Becket, the surname of his father, 1 he 
always styled himself " of London," whether he was 
chaplain to the archbishop, chancellor of the realm, 
or primate of all England. Thus, though of Norman 
birth, he ranked as an Englishman. His contem- 
poraries were proud of him 05 the first man born on 
English soil who, after the Norman Conquest, became 
archbishop of Canterbury. 2 

His father and mother, it seems, were notable His 
people : the mother beautiful, discreet, a good and P arents - 
pious ruler of the house, who taught her child from 
earliest years to fear the Lord and to invoke the 
Blessed Virgin as his patroness, and put his trust, 
after Christ, in her. His father was successful in 
business, and was also a portreeve of the city. Yet 
he lived simply, and his famous son spoke in later 
years of the home and family as humble. Later 

1 The name occurs three or four times, applied to himself, 
in the biographies once in Grim's account of his last moments. 

* The curious may have observed, in 1910, that of the 
last eight archbishops of Canterbury and York only two 
were born on English soil of English parents. 











centuries, seeking to cradle their hero in wonders, 
told that Becket was a knight who had been on 
Crusade and his wife a Saracen princess, who had 
followed him alone to England, knowing only the 
words Gilbert and London : but the story belongs 
to three centuries after his birth. More credible are 
the stories of his mother's dreams that he would be 
great and a saint : perhaps they helped to bring 
about their own fulfilment. 

At ten years old he was sent to school at the house 
of canons, at Merton in Surrey, whose prior, Robert, 
his teacher, became his friend for life and lived to 
see him die. 

A story of his childhood at Merton is told by William 
Fitz-Stephen, who was with him, it would seem, for 
many years, and must have heard many things from 
his own lips. No doubt as years went on for very 
likely Fitz-Stephen did not write till nearly twenty 
years after his master's death the tale was coloured 
by the knowledge of what the boy became. One day, 
it runs, the father came to see his son, and to the 
prior's indignation, kneeled before him. " Dost thou 
fall at thy son's feet, O mad old man ? >T said Robert. 
" He should do thee the worship that thou dost to 
him." But the father held his peace, and afterwards 
in private said, " I know what I do ; for in the Lord's 
sight the boy will be great." Thomas's schooldays 
were certainly happy, for in later years he induced 
the king to erect and endow the priory, and he kept 
his old teacher Robert constantly about him to the 
end of his life. 

But he was not at school only in the country. He 
became a scholar of one of the three famous London 
schools of which Fitz-Stephen speaks, where the 


standard of education was high and it was a privilege 
to be admitted. What the boys learnt one does not 
discover in detail, but of their games Fitz-Stephen, 
himself a Londoner, has left a lucid account. Not 
only did they play football on half holidays, and that 
so furiously that the citizens, even the haughty 
officials, crowded to watch and wished themselves 
boys again, but they indulged, with the masters' 
assistance, in cock-fighting and that, it seems, 
within the school itself : it was the appropriate 
amusement for many centuries of Shrove Tuesday. 1 
" We have all been boys," says Fitz-Stephen, and he 
doubtless includes his hero Thomas among those 
who enjoyed the boys' amusements. 

London, indeed, was full of amusement. Besides 
cock-fighting and football, there were theatrical spec- 
tacles in which were shown the doings of holy confes- 
sors and martyrs ; on Sundays in Lent there was tilting, 
in which not only schoolboys but courtiers mingled, 
and at Easter time were sports on the Thames, when 
boatloads of lads tried to strike a shield fixed on a post 
in midstream. On summer days they ran and jumped 
and shot arrows, and even threw stones ; and at night 
they danced with girls till moonrise. In winter they 
had sports on the ice, and not often broke an arm 
or a head. In all these pleasures, we are to take it, 
young Thomas played his part ; and he watched the 
horsefair at Smithfield, and the frequent fires among 
the wooden houses. He took a meal now and then 
at the great restaurant by the river bank, the first of 

1 So much so that when Mrs. Holmes, wife of the President 
of S. John's College, Oxford, left money in the 18th cent, to 
provide chickens for Shrove Tuesday for the Fellows' table, 
some have asserted that they were really intended to be 
fought, not eaten. 


so long and famous a line ; he joined in the verse- 
contests of the schools, where Fescennine licence 
was mixed with Socratic salt ; and, like Fitz-Stephen, 
who tells us of all these things with abundance of 
quotations from Vergil and Horace, Ovid and Persius, 
and the modern Geoffrey of Monmouth (no doubt all 
known to him also), he was doubtless shocked at 
the immoderate potations of fools. 

Such was the London in which Gilbert Becket's 
boy grew up. He could compare it with Paris, for 
there, too, he went, it seems, to school. He learnt, 
we know, how to ride and tilt, and we are sure that 
his mind dwelt on the memories of martyrs and 
Training in confessors. But chiefly was the city the great mart 
business. o f commerce for all nations, and in this, too, Thomas 
was to bear part. His father was a gentleman, yet, 
some say (though Fitz-Stephen denies it), made 
his living as a merchant ; and his kinsman Osbert, 
with the cognomen " Eightpence " (Huit-deniers, 
Octodenarii), a rich man in trade, honoured among 
courtiers though Christian usurers were supposed 
not to exist, one is almost tempted to think he may 
have been a money-lender on the sly as well as 
citizens, and holding a knight's fee in Kent, now took 
him to serve for three years among his clerks. The 
years were probably 1139 to 1142. He obtained 
experience also of the sheriff's business ; Osbert, it 
may be, was sheriff. 1 He served as secretary or 
" notary " also to Richer of Laigle, a knight who was 
a friend of his parents, and with whom he had often 
been out hunting as a boy, once indeed narrowly 

1 " Practically at the head of the government of London," 
said Mr. Round in the A thenaeum in a note on Mr. Radf ord's 
Thomas of London. 


escaping with his life through his horse falling into 
a millstream. 

So life passed till he was about twenty-three. He 
was quick to acquire, ready to remember, and well 
learned in the " seven liberal arts." While he was 
at work among the lawyers he had amassed a good 
knowledge of law and yet had kept up the knowledge 
that came from his old school books. He was already 
one whom men noticed and for whom a bright future 
was predicted. 

To look upon he was so says the Icelandic Saga, 
which probably embodies the work of Robert of 
Cricklade, a scholar who may have known him well His 
" slim of growth and pale of hue, dark of hair, with appearance 
a long nose and straightly featured face ; blithe of 
countenance was he, winning and loveable in all 
conversation, frank of speech in his discourse, but 
slightly stuttering in his talk, so keen of discernment 
and understanding that he could always make difficult 
questions plain after a wise manner. Of such 
wondrously strong memory was he that whatsoever 
he had heard of sentences and law-awards he could 
cite it at any time he chose to give it forth. By reason 
of these great gifts of God which we have told of even 
now it was easily understood by wise men that he was 
predestined to a high station in the church of God." 

Theobald, archbishop of Canterbury, came from 
the same district, perhaps the same village, in Nor- 
mandy, as Gilbert Becket. It was natural that he 
should know and be reminded of the clever young 

man. Of how he came to call him into his household The house 

,. . oi Arch- 

there are different accounts : it was the request of bishop 

the father himself, or of two of his friends, Archdeacon Theobald. 
Baldwin and Master Eustace, from Bologne. He 



came with one of the primate's servants or officials to 
Harrow, one of the manors of the see of Canterbury, 
and there was admitted into the family of the arch- 
bishop. So he put aside his sports and set himself 
to learn from wise men in the life of religion. 

It was a household of learned men, some of whom 
were to be the teachers, some the friends, some the 
rivals, of Thomas Becket. Chief among them was 
Roger of Pont 1'Eveque, a good scholar but an 
ambitious and jealous man, who would often " break 
out into contumely " against him, and nicknamed 
him, after the knight with whom first he came to the 
house, " clerk BaiUehache," as a token of contempt. 
The joke has lost its savour by now, for we know 
nothing of the knight after whom it seemed comic 
to name this young clerk ; but to Edward Grim, 
when he wrote the biography of Becket, the humour 
seemed of bitter omen. " In good truth," he says, 
" Thomas did, at a later time and a fitting oppor- 
tunity, take the axe in hand,- yet rather the sword of 
S. Peter himself, wherewith he hewed away Roger 
and his associates from the communion of the faithful, 
so that, as they also made plaint to the king, he left 
them not so much as the power to make the sign of 
the cross to bless their food." 

Archbishop Theobald had, like not a few of his 
great predecessors in the chair of S. Augustine, and 
especially the famous Theodore of Tarsus, made of 
his house a school of literary and ecclesiastical learn- 
ing. Thomas of London found it a congenial home. 
His mother, who had such high ambition for him to 
serve God, was dead. He had seen something of the 
world, and thought, no doubt, as young men will, 
that he had seen all that was worth seeing. Now, 


as the Icelandic Saga says in its quaint fashion of 
speech, " he waxeth weary with such way of living, 
in that he perceiveth how, in many things, the deeds 
of worldly lords turn straight against the right and 
the honour of learned folk." At Canterbury, or in 
one of the archbishop's manors, in the circle of 
learned clerks, he would find peace. 

Theobald had had his share of political troubles, and Theobald 
he had seen his power practically superseded by Henry |" d 
of Winchester, king Stephen's brother, and papal 
legate. In 1 143 he resumed his authority, for the new 
Pope, Celestine II, gave him the legation which the 
bishop of Winchester had held under his predecessor ; 
in 1144, under Lucius II, it lapsed again. In 1148 he 
did an act of bold defiance to king Stephen, for in 
spite of the refusal of permission to leave England, he 
crossed the channel secretly, and attended on the 
Pope's summons at Rheims for a council in mid-Lent. 
Roger of Pont 1'Eveque and Thomas of London were 
his companions. In later years Becket quoted this 
boldness as an example of how kings might be defied. x 
Eugenius III, indeed, had no fear of the king of 
England. He had already deposed an archbishop of 
York and consecrated another in his stead no matter 
that the deposed archbishop was afterwards famous 
among saints as S. William of York ; he now sus- 
pended Henry of Winchester and threatened to 
excommunicate Stephen. Theobald was the sufferer : 
he was banished, and the event of a prelate and a king 
at deadly feud, not for the first time nor by many 
a time the last, was another object lesson to the young 
clerk. The party of Theobald was strengthened by 

1 In a letter to Cardinal Boso, 1 166, Materials for the History 
of Archbishop Becket, Vol. VI, pp. 57-59. 


the adherence of the Cluniac Gilbert Foliot, abbat of 
Gloucester, who now by papal authority was ap- 
pointed, and then consecrated by the primate, bishop 
of Hereford. He did homage not to Stephen, king 
of the English, but to Henry, duke of the Normans, 
the son of Matilda, daughter of king Henry I, widow 
of Henry V the Emperor, and wife of Geoffrey of 
Anjou, who had so long fought for the English throne. 
Henry of This first coming of Henry of Anjou into near 
Anjou. connection with the life of Thomas was ominous of 
future history. It was in a matter of Church authority 
that they were first brought near, and through 
Gilbert Foliot, who was to be a chief supporter of the 
one against the other. The event, it seems, brought 
Stephen to submission. Theobald came back to 
England and there was peace. 

Thomas at Thomas had been to Rome with Theobald in 1 143, 
Rome, y e t {{ was some time before he won the archbishop's 
complete confidence. Twice, it seems, the jealous 
Roger caused him to be dismissed, but Walter, 
archdeacon of Canterbury, the archbishop's brother, 
sheltered him, and he was soon restored to favour. 
The school of Canterbury was not only a school of 
literature, where learned clerks gathered to study and 
teach, bringing their learning from foreign Univer- 
sities or going to Paris or Bologna to perfect them- 
and at selves : it was also a school of politics, where the 
bury" interests of Henry of Anjou were always kept in mind 
and where by Thomas himself, it is said the plan 
of Stephen to crown Eustace, his son, in 1152, was 
foiled by the refusal of Theobald. The School of 
Canterbury was pledged to the succession of the 
Angevin heir, now the claimant of rights that had been 
his mother's, for his father died in 1151. It was the 


training ground of politicians as well as of priests. 
Peter of Blois, though he knew it was the house of 
God and the gate of heaven, where was all righteous- 
ness, prudence, and learning, described how " all the 
knotty questions of the kingdom were referred to us, 
and when they are discussed in the hearing of all, 
each of us without strife or wrangling sharpens his 
wits to speak on them well." 

Living and studying in this circle of wits, Thomas 
of London, while still only in minor orders, received 
the church of S. Mary-le-Strand, by the gift of John 
of Pageham, bishop of Worcester, and by that of 
the archbishop himself the church of Otford, in Kent. 
He was also a prebendary of S. Paul's, and in 1154 
also of Lincoln, when he was ordained deacon and 
succeeded Roger of Pont 1'Eveque 1 as archdeacon 
of Canterbury. 

For the office of archdeacon, " oculus episcopi," Legal 
it was necessary, or at least customary, to receive a training, 
training in Church law, and Theobald, " the real 
founder of the medieval canon law jurisprudence " 
in England, had already sent Thomas to study at 
Bologna and Auxerre. 

The age was marked by a great revival in the study 
of law, the Roman law never forgotten and the 
canon law at this time codified. In Italy 2 lay 
teachers had never died out, and the revival found 
them at work and increased their numbers. In 
France, where the ecclesiastical schools and the 
monasteries directed education, it was different. 

1 Who succeeded Walter when he was made Bishop of 
Rochester in 1148 (Gervase Cant., i, 133). 

* See Rashdall, Universities of Europe, ii, 329, whom I am 
here largely following. 


There Becket had already been a student, and was to 
be again. In Northern Italy there was a continuous 
municipal life, with all the traditions of freedom 
which that implied. Roman law, too, had lasted 
on, and was taught in the schools. Becket, who had 
already studied it at Canterbury, now came to the 
Italian schools, where the tradition had never died. 
Bologna Bologna was a school of general arts, and it had a 

and its law j aw school as well, to which came students already 
grounded in general learning in other lands. Between 
the general education and the technical stood the art 
of composition, Dictamen, which men studied all over 
Europe. But law made the great fame of Bologna 
in the twelfth century ; and traditionally Irnerius 
was the founder of its greatness, living himself pro- 
bably till 1130, the contemporary of Gratian, the 
great canonist. A chronicler of the day x says that at 
the request of the great Countess Matilda of Tuscany, 
whose memory was fragrant for centuries, he " re- 
newed the books of the laws, which had long been 
neglected, and, in accordance with the manner in 
which they had been compiled by the Emperor 
Justinian of divine memory, arranged them in 
divisions, adding perchance between the lines a few 
words here and there." This means probably that 
Matilda fostered a law school at Bologna to support 
papal claims as a contrast to imperial Ravenna. 
Thus, in spite of Bologna's ancient seal " Petrus 
ubique pater legumque Bononia mater " the early 
Bolognese doctors were Imperialists. 

The reference to the hero of the lawyers, Justinian, 
is to be interpreted as involving the study of the 

1 Richard of Ursperg, Pertz, Scrip, xxiii, 342, cited by 


Digest ; and the work of Irnerius and his scholars 
was directed to a study, both critical and professional, 
of Roman law, to the organisation of a law school, 
and to its separation from other studies. Side by 
side with the study of Roman law, the law of the 
Empire, there grew the systematisation of canon 
law, the law of the Church. Ivo of Chartres, and 
others, had already produced summaries of this. Now, 
about 1142, Gratian produced his Decretum, a text- 
book of Church law, to balance the text-books of 
Roman law, and to support the papalist position in 
the war of investitures. Having the civil law 
among its sources, the Church law both imitated it 
and reacted from it ; and now it was made into a 
system, apart from it, and apart also from theology. 
When Becket in later years turned back to the study 
of canon law which he now began, his friends saw 
in it something of a defection from the true studies 
of a primate or, perhaps, a priest. 

But for an archdeacon it was meet to study both. 
" Bologna owed its fame as much to the canon law 
as to the civil law ; and that school of canon law 
originated, as we have seen, in the triumph of all 
that is represented by the name of Hildebrand. Even 
in the Imperialist Civilian of Bologna there was 
hardly anything in common with the modern 

As yet there was no University in the modern 
sense, but the lectures of Irnerius were its beginning : 
men, already scholars who had studied elsewhere, The arch- 
were pupils again here, and "a stream of young at 
archdeacons, at the age at which in England a boy is 
articled to an attorney," were among his hearers. 
Delightfully said a great historian " Many and 



varied were their experiences ; but invariably they get 
into debt and write home for money ; some of them 
fall in love and become the quasi-husbands of Italian 
ladies ; some get a bad character for learning the 
Italian art of poisoning ; some are killed in frays 
with the natives ; some remain abroad and become 
professors ; all more or less illustrate the scholastic 
question which John of Salisbury propounds, ' Is it 
possible for an archdeacon to be saved ? ' " 1 He 
generously adds : " There are some few exceptions." 
Thomas of London was certainly one of them. 

It is not difficult to reconstruct something of his 
life at Bologna to-day. If he did not hear lectures 
from that brick pulpit on the wall of San Stefano, 
from which it is traditionally reported that Irnerius 
gave his discourses, he would certainly attend the 
law teachers at the monastery within. He must have 
worshipped in the ancient church beside it, The Holy 
Sepulchre, and in the crypt with its ancient columns 
and the ancient basilica, and in the church of the 
Holy Trinity read the inscription on the font in the 
atrio di Pilato, which names the Lombard Luitprand, 
.and walked in the beautiful cloisters, all belonging to 
that great sevenfold building which is the glory of 
the city to-day. He must have gazed upon the 
wonderful twin towers, Asinelli and Carisenda 

" Qual pare a riguardar la Carisenda 

Sotto il chinato, quando un nuvol vada 
Sopr'essa si, che ella incontro penda." 

He would have stood in the square where now rises the 
huge mass of San Petronio ; and one may well im- 
agine him turning away, with that acute sensitiveness 

1 Stubbs, Lectures in Medieval and Modern History. 
p. 303. 


of smell to which his biographers testify, from the 
odours of the " street of ancient fish " hard by. 

From Bologna, so it seems from William Fitz- Becket at 
Stephen but the chronology is hazy he went to Auxerre - 
Auxerre, still studying the canon law, the beautiful 
Auxerre which we know, with its three churches of 
the Middle Ages S. Etienne, S. Germain, S. Euse"be 
that rise high above the houses which cluster 
up the hill from the river, stripped now of many 
treasures, but keeping a brave front in the fight for 
religion in the rich and peaceful country of the vine. 
It may well be that Becket worshipped in the churches 
and walked with the bishop in that splendid arched 
terrace of his, which looks upon the garden and across 
the broad river. 

Then he was called back to England, and the active Aj . ain at 
life began again. At Canterbury now he found a Canterbury 
new scholar, John of Salisbury, philosopher, theolo- among 
gian, and wit, who was to be for all the rest of his life 
his adviser, sometimes his critic, always his candid 
friend. John of Salisbury, who was probably a little 
younger than Thomas of London, had studied at 
Paris under Abailard and many masters, among them 
Robert of Melun, and another, Adam of Petitpont, 
who was also to receive a bishopric from Henry II 
S. Asaph, as Robert had Hereford, avoiding it, 
however, " for fear of the Welsh," and preferring the 
security of Abingdon. Twelve years John spent in 
study, then he taught, and acted as secretary to 
Peter of Celles. In 1150 he returned to England, 
commended by S. Bernard to Archbishop Theobald, 
and then " for thirty years he continued to live 
the central figure of English learning." Of him more 
when he was with his friend in exile. Beside John 


of Salisbury was John the Kentishman, who became 
in 1162 bishop of Poitiers, and in 1181 archbishop 
of Lyons, but remained till his death rector of 
Eynesford, in Kent, Ralph of Sarr, and some of 
those who were afterwards to win fame as biographers 
of their distinguished companions. Theobald him- 
self had the traditions of Bee, where he had been 
first monk, then abbat, and he was the link between 
the memories of Lanfranc and Anselm and the claims 
of his own successor. In 1149 he brought, probably 
from Bologna, Vacarius, of whom Becket may well 
have told him, to lecture on Justician, and to make 
text-books from the Code and the Digest. The court 
of the archbishop was indeed a school of Church law, 
armed at all points, with an eye to the civil law 
itself, against the supremacy of the lay power. 

The last In 1152 the school won its first triumph. Stephen 

demanded that his son Eustace should be crowned, 

Stephen. while he himself was still alive, to secure the succes- 
sion. Theobald was supported by Eugenius III in 
his refusal, and he had the lore of his clerks at his back. 
Stephen put him in prison ; he escaped over sea and 
took with him the chiefest of his advisers, Thomas the 
archdeacon ; and he used the familiar weapon, a 
threat of interdict, to procure his return. 

Thomas, one may be sure, was at his side through- 
out. All was done, says Gervase of Canterbury, 
by the subtile providing and insight of Thomas the 
clerk. It was not long before he should have his 

Events moved rapidly. Henry of Anjou married 
Eleanor of Aquitaine, the divorced wife of Louis VII, 
king of the Franks. The Pope stood out against the 
succession of Eustace. Henry came over to England 


to press his claims in person and met king Stephen 
at Wallingford, and spoke with him face to face, 
across the Thames or some side channel, where the 
stream was narrow. Already duke of the Normans, 
count of Anjou, and lord through his wife of the 
rich lands of Southern Gaul, he was now recognised 
as heir to the English kingdom. Within a few weeks 
Eustace died, and the treaty was confirmed : Henry 
was to rank as Stephen's son, his justiciar, and his 
undoubted successor. Again, a few months and Coronation 
Stephen was dead, and Henry II was crowned at Henry II. 
Westminster on Sunday, December 19th, 1154. 

One of the last of those who chronicled the stark 
deeds of the Norman kings, J and who had set down 
the horrors of the strife of the nineteen winters 
of king Stephen, ended his book, ready to give a 
new one to the new king. All England was of his 
mind. A new age was felt to begin with the gallant 
young warrior who had won the heritage of Norman 
and Angevin, of Languedoc and England. 

With the new era in the State went changes in the 
Church. Roger of Pont 1'Eveque, who had gone to 
Rome on Stephen's behalf in 1152, and had tried to 
stir up strife between king and archbishop, was an 
uncongenial companion to Theobald as well as 
Thomas, and, after the way of good men, the arch- 
bishop made his dislike show itself only in further 
favour. Aided by Robert the dean and Osbert the 
archdeacon, he procured Roger's election to the 
archbishopric of York on the death of Henry Murdac, 
and consecrated him, within a few days of Stephen's 
death -in Westminster Abbey. He was home again 
from Rome with his pall in time to see Henry of Anjou 

1 Henry of Huntingdon, pp. 291-292. 
a (as 1 6) 


crowned in the same place. He was succeeded as 
archdeacon of Canterbury by Thomas Becket. 

The archdeaconry of Canterbury was, as it is, the 
highest rank in the English Church after the bishops 
and abbats (or deans). It was worth an hundred 
pounds a year, a great sum, and its new possessor 
became in theory what he had no doubt long been in 
fact, the " eye of the archbishop." To give Becket 
weight in the northern province also he was given 
the provostship of Beverley, succeeding in this as in 
the archdeaconry his old rival, Roger, now of York. 

Thomas Becket was now a rich and prosperous 
clerk. Some say that Theobald was training him 
to be his own successor. At least he was rewarding 
him very fully for the work he had done and giving 
him opportunity to do more. Years later, when 
Gilbert Foliot taunted him with owing his rise solely 
to the king's favour, he answered that he had 
already the archdeaconry, the provostship, " churches 
in plenty, prebends more than one, and other benefices 
not a few," and was not poorly furnished with this 
world's goods. Men thought this no reflection on 
a minister of Christ. Feudalism had touched the 
Church, and benefices, ecclesiastical as well as lay, 
were regarded much as fiefs which men could discharge 
the duties of, if need be, by deputy. " The average 
conscience of the time was fully satisfied if the holder 
of several benefices provided a competent person to 
do the duties of each. If Thomas did this at Beverley 
and Otford, and wherever else he held preferment, 
he would not reach the standard either of primitive 
or of modern morality ; but he would full satisfy 
the morality of his own age." So Mr. Freeman, 1 

1 Contemporary Review, Vol. XXXII, p. 124. 


whose name those who were his scholars and friends 
can never mention without affection and honour, 
well expressed the defence that thirty years ago was 
called for by an attack on the " accumulation of 
preferments." One may be sure that the archbishop 
who gave the preferments thought it was in no way 
wrong that Thomas should hold them. 

But Theobald saw in him the power of much 
greater usefulness if he should serve the State. The 
new king was young. Those round him were thought 
to be hostile to the Church, which had been the real 
ruler of England, so far as England was ruled at all, 
during the later years of Stephen. Theobald asked 
the advice of those who best knew the king, the two 
Norman bishops, Peter of Bayeux and Arnulf of 
Lisieux, and set before them the virtues of his arch- 
deacon, the son of his old fellow-countryman. Wise 
and bold and faithful was Thomas of London, and 
sweet were his manners ; and then, the archbishop 
dreaded that Henry would treat England as a con- 
quered land, and knew that Thomas was staunch 
for the freedom of the Church. Already Henry knew 
something of him ; it seems possible that the arch- 
deacon had already acted as his chamberlain. Thomas, 
to hold his new offices, had needed at last to proceed 
above minor orders and had been ordained deacon. 
He was, under inviolable vows, the Church's man. 
He now became the king's man, too, for Henry II 
made him chancellor of England. 



IT was probably at the beginning of 1 155 that Thomas 
of London became chancellor, and certainly it was 
within a year of his having received the archdeaconry 
of Canterbury. He was from the first a partner with 
the king in the restoration of law to the land. 

Years later his enemy Gilbert Foliot charged him 
with having bought the office as a stepping-stone to 
the primacy of all England. The charge cannot be 
proved or disproved to-day. That he paid a large 
sum on his appointment is most probable : it was 
one of the ways by which medieval kings tried to 
secure the fidelity of their servants. Yet Fitz-Stephen 
says expressly that the chancellorship could not be 
bought. That Thomas saw in the post an avenue 
to the archbishopric very likely means no more than 
that he knew Theobald would be glad to think of 
him as his successor. It could hardly have been 
foreseen how warm a friendship with his new master 
would make the appointment probable. 

From the first Henry took most kindly to the clever 
scholar whom the archbishop had sent to be at the 
head of his secretaries. Often he would come to his 
house, when the day's work or hunting was over, 
riding into his hall, drinking a health and away again, 
or jumping over the table to take a seat by his 
chancellor's side. Henry was only twenty-one, still 
an impulsive boy : Thomas, every record shows, 
had a boy's heart. When they rode out together 



they played together, scrambling in the streets while 
courtiers and people wondered. Fitz-Stephen tells 
how once Henry dragged off his chancellor's cape to 
give to a poor man, and they fell to fighting over it : 
Thomas would not give up the new scarlet and grey 
hood without a struggle. It was the boyish friend- 
ship which made the hard work of the official, and 
the jealousies which beset him, endurable. And even 
then we soon hear that he wished to give up his 
honours and return to the archbishop. " Clear- 
sighted as the blessed Thomas was in all his wisdom, 
he saw all along how the great folk of England bore 
him foul thought, a fair mien notwithstanding. Hence 
it is written that he prayed archbishop Theobald, 
often times with tears, that he might be taken back 
into his service, so as to withdraw his neck from under 
the yoke of the thraldom of standing between the 
Church .and the king's men. This, however, the 
archbishop could not grant him, saying that, by the 
spiritual reward which awaited him, he was the more 
needed for the Church the heavier the trials were that 
he must needs endure." * 

The office of chancellor ranked next to the justiciar. 
" Who knows not," wrote his old master, Peter of 
La Celle, " that you are second from the king in four chancellor 
realms ? " In the first place, he was chief of the 
royal chaplains, yet his duties, it seems, went no 
further than the charge of the chapel, for Thomas 
remained a deacon. The Church, however, was 
especially in his charge. Revenues of vacant bishop- 
rics and abbeys were in his hands, to account for to 
the treasury. Thomas, says Fitz- Stephen, caused 
the king to delay appointments as little as possible. 

1 Thomas Saga, i, 58. 


Petitions to the king for the most part passed through 
his hands also. He kept the king's seal, but in the 
treasury, whence it could not go forth but by the 
justiciar's order. When he sealed, he sealed publicly, 
in the eyes of all, alike in the Curia and in the Ex- 
chequer. At the Exchequer nothing great could be 
done without his consent and advice. His clerk 
kept the roll of the chancery, and he was responsible, 
with the treasurer, for the accounts. Ah 1 councils he 
attended or could attend : even when not summoned 
he might enter. No official had so wide a respon- 
sibility, for where the justiciar, or the treasurer, had 
no concern he was employed. So intimate was his 
association with the king and with all the king's 
business that, says Fitz-Stephen slyly, "If by the 
grace of God his well-spent life should win its mercies 
he need not die, if he liked, without being bishop or 

Thomas as chancellor was certainly always in the 
public eye : he was known as the king's chief adviser, 
and men fawned upon him for his favour. Arnulf of 
Lisieux writes a letter the first in the long Becket 

"I have received your highness's letter, every 
word of which seemed to me to drop honey, and to 
be redolent with the sweetness of affection. I was 
delighted to find that I had not lost the privilege of 
our early intimacy, either by the wide distance which 
separates us, or by the multitude of affairs in which 
you are involved. I was delighted, I say, because the 
matter is put beyond all doubt, because of your 
letter, which it would be unworthy of me to suspect 
either of flattery or of falsehood. The same interest 
in you exists also in my bosom, which though it has 


seldom an opportunity of exemplifying itself by deed, 
yet still lives in the devoted yearnings of the will. 
For in friendship, it is the will alone which is con- 
cerned, and there is no room for questions of bartering, 
lest our affection be thought to be prostituted or 
mercenary. Friendship is complete in the purity of 
its own existence, and gains but slight addition x from 
being demonstrated in deed ; it is but little exposed 
to the caprices of fortune and derives its own dignity 
from itself. So true is this, that it is seldom found 
among the rich, for it hates riches and seems to attach 
itself to the single-minded and to the poor. It is, 
indeed, a rare virtue, and therefore the more precious ; 
but nowhere is it more rarely found than between 
those who are invited to administer counsel to kings, 
and to transact the business of kingdoms. For, to 
say nothing of other points, ambition sits with 
anxious weight upon their minds, and whilst each 
fears to be outstripped by the vigilance of the other, 
envy springs up between them, which, ere long, fails 
not to become open hatred. For it is an old feature 
in the character of the envious, that they look upon 
others' success as their own ruin, and whatever 
others gain they think has been subtracted from 
themselves. Envy ever suffers torment, and dis- 
sembles its hidden pains under a smiling look, and 
thus a deceitful exterior cloaks secret treachery. 
Moreover, if the favour of the prince is changed, and 
he begins to look on a man with a clouded brow, all 
the support of his companions fails him, the applause 
and obsequiousness with which they crowded round 
him die away ; those from whom he expected 
consolation, insult him ; and when occasion offers, 
1 Reading crementi. 


remind him of the wrongs he had once done them : 
nay, his very benefits are designated as acts of 
injury. Such is the sea on which you are sailing ; 
such the turmoil amid which your life is cast, wherein 
you will have to guard against the siren smiles of 
those who applaud you, and the venomed strains of 
flatterers. From all these you have but one way to 
escape sincere faith accompanied with uprightness 
in well-doing ; seek rather, with the Apostle, to 
obtain glory to yourself from the testimony of a good 
conscience, than the uncertain honours of public 
report, and of slippery and popular applause. Popu- 
larity departs from a man more rapidly than it came ; 
whereas those other virtues, though they may be 
unpalatable in acquiring, yet lead to a happy sequel. 
I write to you thus plainly, not because I would, 
according to the proverb, teach Minerva letters : but 
in speaking to a friend, I could not restrain the 
current of my thoughts, particularly when urged 
by the impulse of my mind to offer you my 
congratulations." x 

T ^ e The work which Thomas of London was first called 

Henry II. on to share with his master and friend was a work of 

reconstruction. The young king appealed to the 

memory of his grandfather's rule. England was to 

be brought back to the good days of Henry I. 

Those who had seized Crown lands and royal rights 
or secured control of royal towns were dispossessed. 
William of Newburgh, fairest of all the chroniclers, 
and very well informed, says that the grants they 
showed from Stephen were disallowed, as those of 
an usurper. The first of the Angevins, like the first 

1 I have used the rather cumbrous translation of Dr. Giles, 
for it well conveys the artificial air of the original. 


of the Normans, disavowed his predecessor on the 
throne, and looked beyond him for his " antecessor." 
The foreign mercenaries were driven forth from the 
land. Again the justices started on the errand, as 
under Henry I, and now rather to judge than to 
exact money : the young king himself, some say, 
supervising them. Henry was interested in the legal 
development of his day ; he attended the greater 
trials in his own court, and learned by practical 
experience something of the needs for legal reform 
which he would soon endeavour to supply. He was 
not a little of a financier, too : the new financial 
expedients of his reign may well have owed something 
to his initiation. One of his early acts was to restore 
the weight of the coinage. In both law and finance 
Becket's experience would be of value. In all the 
work of government no man would be brought more 
closely into association with the king than the 
chancellor. The chief of the secretaries, if he were 
also a personal friend, would be the chief man in the 
realm. Theobald's aim was fulfilled. At the young 
king's side there stood a man of steadfast soul, 
determined, active, and with religion ever at the 
heart of his life. 

Thomas of London, as the chroniclers describe him, Personal 
was, at the age of thirty-seven, a handsome and appearance 
impressive personage. He was tall, with a long thin 
face and a high forehead, lighted by bright piercing 
eyes, with the white hands, the grace of movement, 
the dignity of manner, which marked the noble. 
His courtesy was perfect, not of that outer show 
which cares not for friends or guests save as pawns 
in a game of ambition, but the courtesy of the heart, 
kindly, considerate, searching out ways to benefit 




And his 
of life. 

as well as to please those with whom he had to do. 
The chroniclers speak enthusiastically of the affection 
he won. William Fitz-Stephen, in a long eulogy, 
says x 

"High was the favour of the chancellor, whether 
among the clergy, knights, or people. He might 
have had all the parochial churches that were vacant, 
both in the towns and castles, for no one would deny 
him, if he would only ask : but he showed such 
greatness of mind in repressing all views of interest, 
that he disdained to forestall the poor priests or 
clerks, or take from them the opportunity of gaining 
those churches for themselves. His great mind 
rather aimed at great objects, such as the priorship 
of Beverley, and the presentation to the prebends 
of Hastings, which he got from the Count of Eu, the 
Tower of London, with the service of the knights 
belonging to it, the castellanship of Eye, with its 
service of two hundred and forty knights, and the 
castle of Berkhamsted." The Pipe Rolls of the 
fifth, sixth and seventh years of Henry II show him 
also as holding this, and in the later year the abbey 
of Ramsey. 

To continue Fitz-Stephen 

" He generally amused himself, not as if it were 
a business but carelessly, and as it might happen 
with hawks and falcons, or dogs of the chase, and 
in the game of chess, 

' Insidiorum ludebat bella latronum.' 

(Martial, xiv, 20.) 

" The house and table of the chancellor were 
common to all of every rank who came to the king's 
1 Materials, iii, 20 sqq. 


court, and needed hospitality : whether they were 
honourable men in reality, or at least appeared to be 
such. Hardly any day did he dine without the 
company of earls and barons, whom he had invited. 
He ordered his hall to be strewed every day with fresh 
straw or hay in winter, and with green branches in 
summer, that the numerous knights, for whom the 
benches were insufficient, might find the floor clean 
and neat for their reception, and that their rich 
garments and beautiful linen might not take harm 
from its being dirty. His board shone with vessels 
of "gold and silver, and abounded with rich dishes 
and precious wines, so that whatever there might be 
either for eating or drinking was recommended by its 
rarity ; no price was great enough to deter his agents 
from purchasing them. But amid all these, he was 
himself singularly frugal, so that his rich table 
provided rich alms for those who partook thereof : 
and I have heard from his confessor, Robert, the 
venerable canon of Merton, that from the time of his 
becoming chancellor, no excess ever stained his life. 
This, too, was a subject on which the king was 
continually tempting him night and day ; but as a 
man of prudence, and ordained of God, he was ever 
sober in the flesh, and had his loins girt. As a wise 
man, he was bent on administering the government 
of the kingdom, and whilst busied in so many matters, 
both public and private, he might rarely yield to such 
seduction. For says the poet 

' Otia si tollas, periere Cupidinis arcus.' 

(Ovid, Rem. Amor, 139.) 

A modest man, indeed, was the chancellor a foe 
to depravity and uncleanness ; and when a clerk of 
his, of high birth, Richard of Ambly, had carried off 


the wife of a friend, who had been long absent beyond 
the sea, and persuaded her that her husband was 
dead, he removed him from his house and his friend- 
ship, and caused him to be kept prisoner in the 
Tower of London, where he was detained for some 
time loaded with irons." 

To the medieval monk it perhaps seemed strange 
that any man out of the cloister should live a pure 
life. Thus, the Saga, derived no doubt from the 
Cricklade prior, speaks with an air of more surprise 
than does Fitz-Stephen 

1 " The holy fathers have made plain that a chaste 
monk is like unto a knight who keepeth his wealth 
and life in a close stronghold. But he who liveth 
chastely in the world signifieth a knight who fighteth 
with sword and shield in open field and receiveth a 
greater reward the more glorious victory he gaineth ; 
for that indeed is a more wondrous art to stand on 
the embers being unburnt than to shun the fire and 
be unscathed. Both these signs point to that laud- 
able man the blessed Thomas. He was placed by 
the lord king in the way of such a good hap and 
fulness of this world's bliss as hath been before told, 
and yet he wore over his breast nevertheless such a 
trusty hauberk of virtue through God's abiding with 
him that he never departed from a life of purity and 
holy endeavour ; for if in the daytime the fulfilment 
of many duties hindered he would get up anight-tide 
to worship his Creator. And how he was wont to 
bring his God the sacrifice of praise and of a pure 
life appeareth from two tales which now follow 
concerning this matter. 
" So Robert writes, that there was a certain person, 

1 Thomas Saga Erhibyskups, ed. Magnusson, i, 50 sqq. 


a nigh kinsman of his, who sought the king's court 
about the time in which the story goeth. He had on 
hand certain affairs on the happy issue of which he 
deemed that much might lie. He setteth his mind, 
as many a man in England now listed, on first seeing 
the chancellor Thomas, to expound to him the nature 
of his affairs, and to pray him for some furtherance 
thereof. Now by reason of his reaching the town not 
till the day is far spent, a laudable custom forbiddeth 
to go before such a mighty man at late eventide, 
wherefore he betaketh him to his chamber. But in 
early morn, already when day was abreaking, he 
bestirreth himself for the carrying out of his errands. 
Now the way taketh such turn that he must needs go 
by a certain church, and he seeth lying before the 
door a man prostrate in prayer even unto earth. 
And when as he stands bethinking him of this sight 
there comes upon him, as ofttimes may happen, some 
sneeze or a kind of coughing. And forthwith starts 
he who lay kneeling on the ground and rises straight- 
way up, then lifteth his hands up to God and thus 
ends his prayer, and thereupon walks away thence to 
his own chamber. The new-comer was right eager 
to know who of the townspeople might follow such 
worthy ways, and therefore he taketh an eye-mark 
against the dawn both of his growth and the manner 
of attire he wore, that he might the rather know him 
if he should happen to see him afterwards. Nor did 
that matter long await true proof, for no sooner hath 
he leave to see chancellor Thomas than he well 
perceiveth that the very growth and raiment which 
he had noted before belongeth to no man but to him 
alone ; for even now Thomas putteth off his over- 
garment as though he had just entered the room. 


This person testified to his kinsman Robert when he 
came home what virtue and godly fear he had found 
in the blessed Thomas, straight against the thinking 
of most people ; and hence it came to pass that the 
prior put this deed into his writings." 

He then tells a story which originally appears in 
Gamier of S. Maxence, and which is given also by 
William of Canterbury. It was evidently a tale that 
was well known : Avice, the king's mistress, would 
be observed by many eyes 

Chastity. " In a certain thorpe named Stafford there was a 

certain lady, goodly and of great wealth. It was 
talked of among the household folk of king Henry 
that on this lady he had set a fond eye aforetime. 
But now that love is somewhat waning and waxing 
colder the king cometh the seldomer, and, he having 
turned away, it so happeneth oftentimes that chan- 
cellor Thomas taketh harbour in this same township. 
And when he happens to be staying there this lady 
sendeth him many seemly gifts for his table. From 
this the host, with whom the chancellor was wont to 
be harboured, thinketh that she is minded by this 
kindness to win for her a new lover. And such great 
heed giveth he to this thought that once upon a 
time, when the chancellor hath taken up his dwelling 
in his house, he getteth up amidnight, taketh a lan- 
tern, and goeth to the chamber which the chancellor 
had, entereth it, listeneth about, and hearing nought 
thinketh now that surely the chancellor must have 
gone away. But the very time he turneth up the 
light of his lantern and beginneth to spy about it is 
proven that such is the case not altogether since 
before the very bed he seeth a barefooted man, pros- 
trated on the floor, on whom after kneeling and 


praying sleep had fallen. And soon he perceiveth 
that here lieth Thomas the chancellor, and it was 
proven here, in truth, that he was a man of pure life 
and good manners, whom a misdoubting man thought 
to be like even unto himself. Blessed is the soul 
that deceiveth the world yet serveth its Maker. . . ." 

Such tales proved that if Thomas had " put off 
the deacon " he still lived the life of a servant of God. 
And prior Robert of Cricklade, from whose record 
these stories reached Iceland, added the more general 

"... Unto this the lord Thomas added such And 
bounty to needy folk and foreigners that he yielded 
them in their hardships unstinted comfort in gifts of 
money, although it were hidden from the knowledge 
of the multitude. But to lords and great men he 
chose to give his gifts openly. For these things, as 
might be looked for, the poor loved him even as a 
father, but lords held him in honour as their equal, and 
revered him as their superior. At this time those only 
deemed themselves well bestead in England who were 
partakers of his kindness. For this reason he had the 
power much to give and many to comfort, that the 
king made him, for his own living and profit, a grant 
of a fee, which men nowadays call barony, and is as 
large a fief as that which belongeth to him who is 
called a baron of the king's realm. But it is worthy 
of mention, that for all this kingly favour, and the 
manifold grants which have been told now awhile, 
many lords in England bore Thomas a sullen mind, 
although openly they showed themselves blithe 
enough ; for two things preyed inwardly upon them, 
firstly, the king's favour towards the chancellor, 
and secondly, this, that they might not as at this time 


wreak as much evil against the Church as they had 
a mind to ; and who these folk were became manifest 
enough when the crash befell whereby the king's 
friendship brake." 

And a few words of the faithful Edward Grim, a 
man not vocal, as Carlyle might have said, but 
writing with a certain stiffness of pen that is a 
testimony to truth, may be added to complete the 
picture. 1 

" The poor and the oppressed found ready access 
to him : the cause of the widow did not come before 
him in vain : he gave justice and protection to 
the weak and needy. He had so large a following of 
chosen knights and dependents of all sorts, that 
the royal palace seemed empty in comparison ; the 
king himself was left almost alone, and sometimes 
complained to the chancellor that his court was 

His vigour Such was Thomas as contemporaries saw him in 

i wor . ^g days of his power. His fame was resplendent 

among the Londoners. It was he who restored the 

Tower, now in his custody, as it has so long been in 

that of the Mandevilles. 

Fitz-Stephen, who told of how the foundations of 
the great fortress were cemented by blood, says 

" Thomas the chancellor caused the Tower of 
London, which is the seat of the Monarchy, and was 
become almost a ruin, to be put into repair ; and 
proceeded with such marvellous rapidity that this 
great work was completed between Easter and Whit- 
suntide ; so many carpenters and other workmen 
were labouring together, and made such a din in 
their haste to finish their labours, that even those 

1 Materials, iii, 363-4. 


who were standing close together could hardly hear 
one another speak." 

The eye-witness, one sees, was a London citizen. 

The greatness of the things he planned, the vigour 
with which he carried out what he had designed, no 
less than the courage with which he fought " the 
beasts of the Court," made the simple monks who 
knew him, like William of Canterbury, in later years, 
think that there was no wonder men considered him 
half a sorcerer. Yet those who knew him saw that 
he had " the breastplate of righteousness." Thus, 
John of Salisbury might dedicate both the " States- 
man's Book," and the defence of logic, to the man 
who, after four years as chancellor, was seen to be 
a light of the clerical order, as scholar and as judge, 
at the king's right hand, and who quashed unjust 
laws and set always the public good before private 
gain. 1 

We are not without examples of the part played As a 


1 The Policraticus was completed before September, 1159; itinerant, 
the Metalogicus a little later. Both were dedicated to the 
chancellor. [See Mr. C. C. Webb's splendid edition, 1909.] 
In his Introduction John of Salisbury thus eulogises Becket, 
sending his book to him as Ovid his to Augustus 

Ergo quaeratur lux cleri, gloria gentis 

Anglorum, regis dextera, forma boni. 
Quaesitus regni tibi cancellarius Angli, 

Primus sollicita mente petendus erit 
Hie est qui regni leges cancellat iniquas, 

Et mandata pii principis aequa facit. 
Si quis obest populi, uel moribus est inimicum, 

Quicquid id est, per eum desinit esse nocens. 
Publica privatis qui praefert commoda semper, 

Quodque dat in plures, ducit in aere suo. 
Quod dat habet, quod habet, dignis donat: uice uersa 

Spargit, sed sparsae multiplicantur opes. 
Utque uirum uirtus animi, sic gratia formae 

Undique mirandum gentibus esse facit. 
3 (aai6) 



by Thomas of London in judicial business. In 1156 
he was itinerant justice in three shires. The Pipe 
Roll accounts for the profits of the pleas heard in 
Lincolnshire by him with Robert Beaumont, earl 
of Leicester, one of the young king's chief advisers ; 
for those in Essex, where he sat with Henry, earl of 
Essex, the constable ; and in Kent where he judged 
with Essex and also apparently alone. It seems 
probable that he held pleas again in later years, up 
to 1158. 

In the Chancery we know practically nothing of 
what he did, beyond the vague phrase of John of 
Salisbury, which can only be regarded as a punning 
anticipation of the later equitable jurisdiction of the 
chancellor. The utmost that can be said is that 
Becket's personal eminence added very greatly to 
the importance of the office of chancellor, and thus 
did something to add to its judicial work, of which 
very little is known in his day. 

But in the ordinary judicial work of the curia regis 
he played a more prominent part. The case of Battle 
Abbey looks big in some of the modern biographies, 
because it may be used to support a theory of the 
chancellor's indifference to the interests of the Church. 
In May, 1157, Henry II heard at Colchester the suit 
between the bishop of Chichester and the abbat of 
Battle, as to whether the special privileges conferred 
by William the Conqueror involved exemption from 
episcopal control. Richard de Lucy, the justiciar, 
argued the case of his brother the abbat against 
Hilary, bishop of Chichester, who spoke very volubly 
for himself. The chancellor acted as clerk of the 
court, read documents, asserted the abbat's rights 
which were really those of the Crown and also took 


his place among the judges of the Curia, who advised 
the king as to the ultimate decision. The judgment 
was not formally given : the bishop was induced to 
withdraw his claim to jurisdiction and to state that 
this was done voluntarily. Becket, writing years 
later to the Pope, says he was compelled to receive 
back to communion without absolution the abbat, 
whom he had excommunicated, and to give him the 
kiss of peace. In the account which the Chronicle 
of Battle gives of the trial, it would seem as if the 
chancellor was in favour of the abbat. There has 
been a good deal of unnecessary dispute about the 
explanation. It is clear enough that while Becket 
was generally in favour of episcopal authority over 
monasteries and so far in sympathy with the bishop, 
he knew that in the case before the court a special 
exemption had been granted, which, whether it was 
given wisely or not, was valid. His view was that of 
archbishop Theobald and was sanctioned by subse- 
quent popes. x And at the utmost his responsibility 
was that of one among several judges. The chancellor 
was not yet, as chancellor, a judge himself. 

Nor was he a financial officer apart from others. In the 
A chancellor of the exchequer was still to come : 
Becket was the chancellor in the exchequer as 
elsewhere, having there his roll and the king's seal. 
His clerk played an important part. He himself was 
the channel through which writs for the king's 
remission of debts to the Crown were issued, and 
disbursements on account of the king were often 

1 The authority is the Chronicle of Battle, of which the parts 
bearing on the question are reprinted in Materials, iv, 244 sqq. 
Dr. Radford in Thomas of London before his Consecration, dis- 
cusses the facts and criticises Fr. John Morris, S. Thomas 
of Canterbury, Vol. II, note D. 


made through him. He acted in fact as a trusted 
secretary in this as in other matters. The special 
financial importance of his work is not great. Not 
till he became archbishop did he issue writs of 
remission (perdona) in his own name. 

In But he was already found useful, for his tact and 

iplomatic graciousness, his insight and determination, in 
diplomatic business. He is first found as sending his 
deputy to welcome the Norwegian ambassadors who 
came in the second year of the king's reign, and to 
pay for their entertainment : one of those rare 
instances of relation with Scandinavia since the time 
of Swegen and Cnut which the chroniclers cherish, 
giving quaint details of the wild doings of the northern 
kings and rebels. Herbert of Bosham, who knew him 
from this time, bore a letter to the Roman Emperor 
in Germany, Frederic I, to which he was witness. 1 

In war. In 1156 Thomas accompanied the king when he 

reduced his younger brother Geoffrey to submission, 
taking from him Mirabeau and Chinon, where (says 
Benedict of Peterborough) he destroyed the castles 
a destruction which did not prevent their soon being 
built up again. Great aid gave Thomas the chan- 
cellor, says Gervase of Canterbury. In the first Welsh 
war of the reign, July to September, 1 157, when Henry 
led his troops in person, Thomas was with him. The 
first disaster, in which Henry of Essex, the constable, 
threw down the royal standard and fled, was redressed 
by a march along the coast, which prevented the 
Welsh, who were chiefly dependent on England for 
corn, getting supplies, and reduced them to 
submission, Owain Gwynnedd doing homage for 
North Wales. Henry returned by Chester, Thomas 
1 See Materials, v, addenda, p. xxvi a. 


still with him bearing the repute of an inspired 
sagacity. 1 

The chancellor was next sent on embassy to Embassy to 
Louis VII, king of the Franks, to negotiate the Louis VII, 
marriage between the English king's eldest surviving XI 5 8> 
boy, Henry, and Margaret, the French king's little 
daughter, the debatable land of the Vexin to be her 
dowry, one of the few negotiations for child-marriage 
in that age which was brought to completion. It 
was an occasion for ostentation, of which Thomas, 
who certainly loved splendour, was not slow to avail 
himself. He would impress the Frankish king, 
" that the person of him who sent might be honoured 
in him who was sent and that of the envoy in himself." 
t There were two hundred knights, clerks, butlersT"" 
servants, sons of English nobles, as pages and squires, 
and the whole train bore the appearance of an armed 
force, dressed in new clothes and bright armour. 
Thomas himself had twenty-four suits of raiment, 
which he wore, it would seem, but once, and then 
lavishly gave away. He took his own chapel furni- 
ture, the sacred vessels, the altar ornaments and 
books ; the carpets and hangings for his own chamber, 
the gold and silver plate, from cups and plates to 
salt-cellars ; bags and boxes full of money, and 
barrels of beer/a liquid clear and of a better colour 
and taste than wine, thinks Fitz-Stephen, and much 
admired by the French. 

Each sumpter-horse had a monkey on it (humani 
simulator simius oris, as Claudian says) , and foot boys 

1 Cf. John of Salisbury, Policraticus, ii, 144 : " Cum 
adversus Vivicollinos Britones regia esset expeditio produ- 
cenda, in quo te consultus aruspex preaemonuit, etc.," and 
see It Camb., ii, 7, 21 f, R.S., An Cam, 20 R.S. 


(fruges consumers nati) led the way into every 
village singing their own English ballads after the same 
fashion that they used at home. After them came 
hounds in couples and greyhounds at leash, so that 
the French might see the English manner of la chasse. 
The waggons full of stores rattled over the stones, and 
the grooms riding the sumpter animals, and sticking 
their knees in, as still the English way is. When all 
this noise had stirred the phlegmatic French, they 
would rush from their houses and ask what it 
meant. The English chancellor, going on embassy 
to the king of France, 1 was the answer. Wonderful, 
indeed, must the English king be who has so grand 
a chancellor ! And so they stood at their doors 
while the squires came by with their knights' shields 
and war-horses, and other squires with the hawks 
on their wrists : then the servants, then the knights 
and clerks, a-horseback, two and two : then, last of 
all, the chancellor with his household friends about 

The way to Paris was a sort of triumph, and, when 
Thomas was arrived there and lodged in the Temple 
he must outdo the French in munificence, supplying 
his own food by trick, when the king ordered that 
no one should take payment from the English envoys, 
and feasting in an incredible excess of luxury, worthy 
of the riches of Solomon. A hundred pounds was 
given for a single dish of eels, says Fitz-Stephen, and 
expects his readers to believe and tremble ; from the 
which, you may gather, he adds, that the table of the 
chancellor was both sumptuous and sufficient. 

1 Fitz-Stephen says regtm Franciae : it would be an unusual 
phrase among the Franks at that time, and no English king 
yet called himself " rex Angliae." 


Becket remembered the scholars and their masters, 
for he once had studied at Paris ; and he remembered 
too that English scholars are usually in debt, for he 
paid their creditors. He gave " tips " in fact right 
royally : as one reads of Hannibal after the slaying 
of Hasdrubal, when he sent envoys to Rome (says 
Fitz-Stephen, a little mixed), saying to them " lie, 
et omnem mortalen explete pecunia." 

And so the embassy was successful. What Thomas 
asked, that was granted. The dower was agreed on, 
the Vexin with several castles, including the famed 
Gisors, to be held by the Templars till the marriage 
should take place. This seemed to be a settlement 
of the bitter question about frontiers ; in such a 
form at least it came into the Saga of Iceland, for 
" by his wisdom and law-pleading, Thomas wrought 
a settlement as to the landmark laid down of old 
between France and Normandy." 1 

In all this there may well be exaggerations. Henry II 
certainly took part in the negotiations himself. But 
there is no reason why Becket should not have been, 
as Fitz-Stephen makes out, a special envoy, and have 
brought back, as Robert of Torigny says, the little 
maid. There was certainly a diplomatic victory. 

In the other foreign questions of the year Thomas 
may have had no concern. He was probably at 
work in England. But the next year included one 
of the great events of his life, the campaign in 
Southern Gaul. Already he had shown himself eager 

1 Some have thought that there were other matters in 
debate with Louis at this or other times during the first year 
of Henry II, among them the Seneschalship of France. Cf. 
Davis, England under the Norman and Angevin Kings, 202-3. 
But M. Luchaire (Institutions monarchiques, i, 176) shows 
that the Counts of Anjou never claimed this office. 




War, 1159. 



for the defence of the king's island realm : he had 
himself given to Henry three fine ships, fully fitted. 
He was as eager for the strength of the military force. 
In the short war with Geoffrey he had shown this. 
Now he was to bring his financial skill to bear. 

The claim of Henry to the county of Toulouse 
was characteristically complicated and weak. It 
seems that William the Eighth, duke of Aquitaine, had 
mortgaged the country of Toulouse to his wife's 
uncle, Raymond of S. Giles. Whether or not the 
money had been repaid, Eleanor, Henry's wife, 
duchess of Aquitaine, had claimed the return of the 
land, and Raymond, the grandson of the mortgagee, 
had held to possession. Henry of Anjou was ready 
to establish his power over all Southern Gaul, by 
alliance or by conquest. He treated with Raymond, 
count of Barcelona, husband of Petronilla, queen of 
Aragon, for the marriage of his boy Richard (born at 
Oxford hardly a year before) with their baby girl ; 
he secured the support of the count of Blois, and of 
Montpellier and Nimes, and he gathered a mighty 
force together. The gathering was largely Becket's 

Under Henry I, compensation in lieu of military 
service had occasionally been taken from those 
whose duty it was to provide knights for the king's 
wars, and it had become a custom to allow the 
ecclesiastical tenants (and sometimes those who held 
by subinfeudation) to compound in money for the 
knight-service. This was the scutage. Already it 
had been used by Henry II in 1156, when a levy was 
made from ecclesiastics holding by knight-service! 
Now it was again imposed, on mesne tenants and on 
the churches, two marks being charged on the knight's 

THE "DONUM" OF 1159 41 

fee in lieu of service. In this there was nothing new. 
But what was new, and what needs apology all 
through Thomas's later life, when his friends were 
pleading his unbroken attachment to the Church, 
was the donum now demanded, an arbitrary tax, 
under colour (in true medieval fashion) of a gift, de- 
manded from the Church. There were no less than 
eight measures of exacting money employed in 1159, 
of which six were arbitrary ; 1 and the donum from 
the Church tenants in chief, irrespective of their fees, 
and from some of the religious houses who held 
in frank-almoign, not by military tenure, were the 
most arbitrary of all. A large sum was thus drawn 
from the Church in an arbitrary manner, and for this 
action men said that the great churchman who was 
chancellor was responsible. 2 Foliot, bishop of 
London, in the vehemence of his remonstrance with 
Becket, his archbishop, in 1166, spoke of Becket as 
chancellor holding the sword of state and plunging 
it into the bosom of holy Mother Church when he 

1 See Round, English Historical Review, vi, 633-6, and 
Feudal England. 

1 John of Salisbury in the Policraticus (ed. Webb, ii, 424), 
thus speaks of the Toulouse expedition : " Maior enim es 
quam ut debeas aut possis (licet iam sic ceperit multos) capi 
tendiculis eius. Rex illustris Anglorum Henricus secundus, 
maximus regum Britanniae, si initiis gestorum fuerit exitus 
concolor, circa Garonnam et (ut dicitur) te auctore te duce 
fulminat, et Tolosam felici cingens obsidione non modo 
Provinciales usque ad Rodanum et Alpes territat, sed, 
mutionibus dirutis populisque subactis, quasi uniuersis 
praesens immineat, timore principes Hispanos concussit et 
Gallos. In tantisrerum tumultibus quaeso custodi innocentiam 
et uide et dicta et praedica aequitatem ; nee amore nee odio, 
timore vel spe declines a via recta." But John takes a rather 
different view of the matter when he explains, and apologises 
for, his hero's action, in a letter to Bartholomew, bishop of 
Exeter, written in 1166. (Materials, v, 376 sqq.). 



in the war. 

And again 
in the 

stripped her of so much money to pay for the expedi- 
tion against Toulouse. It was a charge to which no 
satisfactory reply could be given. The demand was 
an arbitrary one, and Becket was at best partly 
responsible for it. He was serving the king, and 
he thought only of serving him to the best of his 
power. John of Salisbury's defence that he yielded 
to the king's will under compulsion and was only 
the minister, not the contriver, of iniquity, will not 
bear consideration. 

The chancellor certainly threw himself into the 
war with a most unclerical enthusiasm. Now indeed 
did he as Herbert of Bosham 1 says of him during 
his chancellorship " put off the deacon," and that 
most conspicuously. He had been with the king in 
January at Argentan, and in June was with him at 
Saintes. Early in July he was at Agen, where he 
alone attested a grant to the bishop of Rochester. 
He led seven hundred knights of his own, and fought 
with the best of them. He pressed on to Toulouse 
with the utmost vigour, and when there urged the 
king to attack and capture the city, for Louis, his 
suzerain, was within the walls. Henry had scruples. 
Becket had none ; nor indeed was there any occasion 
for them, for if war once involved the suzerain it was 
absurd to pretend that his rights, or his dignity, 
were respected. When Henry broke up the siege, the 
chancellor followed him to Cahors, and received the 
charge of the captured city ; and when Henry 
withdrew from the campaign Thomas continued it, 
stormed castles, crossed the Garonne, and subjugated 
districts to the Angevin lord. 

The war ended by a truce, and king and chancellor 

1 Materials, iv, 173. 


turned their attention to the Norman frontier, where 
Becket, with his knights, twelve hundred mercenaries, 
and four thousand followers (" servientes ") was 
foremost in the attack. Gamier of Pont S. Maxence, 
who lived to write the glory of Thomas's life as a 
martyr, saw him unhorse many French knights, and 
he overthrew and despoiled a gallant warrior, 
Engelram of Trie. He led his men, and they were 
always the most daring and the most victorious in 
the army. " Who can tell how he inflicted death and 
confiscation of goods ? Supported by a strong band 
of knights, he attacked cities, destroyed towns, gave 
vills and farms to the devouring flames, and showed 
himself merciless to the foes of his master, where- 
soever they arose " : so wrote Edward Grim, when 
he had seen the fierce warrior become a saint and die 
a martyr's death. 

He would prosecute the war to the end, and the 
only hope of peace, wrote John of Salisbury, depended 
on his judgment. Well might Theobald be offended 
by the long absence from the archdeaconry which 
was spent in such a way. 1 But peace was made 
within a few months : perhaps Thomas hurried it 
on because of the significant advice that he should 
return before the archbishop died. 

But, high though he seemed in favour, he was not His 
always able to remain in perfect accord with the opposition 
king. He had not so entirely " put off the deacon " j*j ihe . 
that he could set aside Church law when it seemed regard 
to speak clearly. In his own case, he could disobey to the 
canons and appear on a battlefield ; but when what Church ' s 
seemed immutable Christian laws were in danger, he 
could stand firm. Henry wished to marry Mary, 

1 Materials, v, 13. 



daughter of the count of Blois, though she was 
abbess of Romsey, to Matthew of Boulogne, brother 
of the count of Flanders. Becket forbade the 
sacrilege and contested it to the utmost of his power, 
but in vain. 1 He was, it seems, stricter than the 
Pope, for a dispensation was given. It may have 
been at the same time that Thomas also interfered 
in regard to the marriage of William, Henry II's 
brother, to the countess of Warenne, widow of L king 
Stephen's son, and prevented it, on the ground of 
consanguinity, which act was remembered by one of 
his murderers, Le Breton, who cried as he struck him, 
" Take that, for the Lord William's sake, the king's 
brother." 2 But the date of the affair is uncertain, 
and its significance, as given in the Draco Norman- 
nicus of Stephen of Rouen, who attributes to it a 
great part of Henry's anger against Becket, is greatly 

Thomas held his archdeaconry and his chancellor- 
ship till the death of the archbishop. In the former 
Canterbury, office he cannot have been very active ; nor, perhaps, 
was there even then an excessive laboriousness 
demanded from the archdeacon of Canterbury. But 

1 The story is in Robert of Torigny, and in Herbert of 
Bosham, Robert speaking of Matthew as winning Boulogne 
by this marriage. 

2 A late reference to this is interesting. In the English 
Historical Review, viii, 85, Dr. Macray gives an account of 
one of the Hereford MSS. of the fourteenth century : a sermon 
of archbishop Stratford, preached to monks at Canterbury 
in 1341. This makes Le Breton give as reason for murdering 
Becket that he had prevented William, Henry's brother, 
marrying countess Warenne, because her late husband was 
son of king Stephen, and Stephen and Matilda were cousins. 
This came from " libro quodam conscripto de vita sua apud 
Osneyam." Stratford says that if this is true it ought to be 
noted [" valde notandum "]. 


Theobald was not inclined to bear his absence 
patiently. There are letters of his in 1160 and in 
1161 demanding his return. He laments, as his days 
close in, the evil customs of monetary exaction which 
hang round the archbishopric especially an exaction 
called " second aids " : will the archdeacon forego 
his share of these, that the primate's soul may have 
peace ? And again, when will he return to his 
duties ? He is altogether inexcusable and nigh 
unto cursing, unless his absence be excused by the 
king himself on the ground of necessity, and public 
usefulness. And yet again John of Salisbury writes 
of the archbishop's anger at the prolonged absence ; 
and yet with a sort of trembling respect, for if all 
that is said of those who return from the court be 
true, the king and the whole court depend entirely 
on his counsel, and it is said that he is given the 
revenues of three vacant sees. Still, the friend adds 
the personal advice to return. We do not know 
if it was obeyed. 

As to the chancellorship again, details are lacking. The years 
The legal reforms which make the reign of Henry II 1159-62. 
second in importance only to that of Edward I in 
our medieval history belong to the time when Becket's 
secular service was over. Dr. Stubbs used to attri- 
bute the Grand Assize, by which the use of a jury 
to determine the right to land in dispute was insti- 
tuted (and of which the date is not certainly known, 
and the account appears only in Glanville, de Legibus 
Angliae) to the period of Thomas's political employ- 
ment ; and it was argued that this act must have been 
prior to the Constitutions of Clarendon, which show 
the custom of a jury in civil suits. But it has been 
shown more probably that that Assize was issued 


in the Great Council at Windsor in April, 1179. l 
It is, indeed, improbable that if Thomas were the 
author of so important a measure there would be 
no record among his biographers that the regale 
beneficium was his work. 

The main interests of these years lay among foreign 
affairs. The third marriage of Louis VII, with Alice 
of Champagne, arrayed more enemies against Henry, 
linking the house of the Prankish king to the enemies 
of Anjou in central France. The retort was the 
enforced marriage of the children of the rival kings, 
and Henry's seizure of the frontier castles, followed 
by a short war and the seizure of castles, after the 
English king's constant policy. Then matters were 
patched up as usual. It was neither party's interest 
as yet to have a war to the knife. 

Before this came an event almost equally familiar, 
a Schism in the Papacy. Adrian IV, the English 
Pope, died. Frederick the emperor had Victor IV 
chosen by his party, " divinum non verita judicium," 
says William of Newburgh. Alexander III was the 
Pope of the Hildebrandine party : the English and 
French kings accepted him : he fled from Italy and 
took refuge in France. Complications arising on all 
sides kept Henry busy abroad from August, 1158, 
and probably his chancellor was often at his side. 
During the king's " absence from England, which 
lasted till January, 1163, the country was adminis- 
tered by the justices, the queen or the young Henry 
occasionally presiding at the Court or Councils. The 
country was quiet, and the business of justice and 

1 See Round, Athenaeum, Jan. 28th, 1899, accepted by 
Davis, England under the Norman and Angevins, pp. 280-81. 


taxation went on without difficulty." 1 This was 
soon to be changed. 

Theobald, archbishop of Canterbury, had long Death of 
been sick. Again and again in the last months of Theobald, 
his life had John of Salisbury written in his name I 
to beg the king to spare the chancellor that he might 
visit him before he died and that the Lord's anointed 
himself would come to his servant's bedside. But 
neither Henry nor Thomas came, and Theobald died 
without seeing him whom his soul desired, yet not 
without still thinking of him as his successor. On 
April 18th, 1161, he passed away. He was buried in 
his own cathedral church. In 1174 his body was 
translated to the nave. In 1787, according to the 
custom at Canterbury 2 of opening the graves of 
archbishops, his bones were again seen and identified. 
Long before that the dust of his successor had been 
scattered to the winds. 

1 Stubbs, Constitutional History, Vol. I, p. 458. 

1 Cf. Archbishop Herring and S. Anselm, Hist. MSS. Com. 
Report on Various MSS., i, 226-31, and Life of Archbishop 
Benson, ii, 301-2. 



Interval THEOBALD had prayed Henry to give him a worthy 
Theobald's successor. For some time the king seems to have 
death. hesitated. Several months passed during which 

we have no knowledge of what was in his mind. 
Men had long suspected the chancellor of desiring 
the primacy. He had known himself, as had others, 
that the dead archbishop had looked for him to 
succeed. But now the king and he went about their 
ordinary business, and if they ever spoke of the 
matter we know nothing of what they said. We do 
not know if they were much together during these 
months ; but early in April, 1 162, the signature of the 
chancellor shows that he was with the king at Rouen, 
and there the prior of Leicester told him of the 
rumour at Court that he should be archbishop. A 
month later Henry was at Falaise, and designing to 
secure the succession of his young son, who had long 
been in the chancellor's charge among many young 
sons of nobles whom, after the custom of the great 
medieval prelates, he brought up in his household, 
teaching them religion, and gentle manners and war- 
like exercises. The king sent for the chancellor, 
who, as was customary, had charge of the vacant 
see. He was to be sent to England, to deal with 
the Welsh, and to see that prelates and nobles did 
homage to the king's son. 

He gave the commission, and then when Thomas 
came to take leave, had received his orders and 



turned to depart, at last he spoke. Herbert 

of Bosham tells the story, no doubt from Thomas's 

own lips, but with his own prolixity. The Saga's The ting's 

picturesque words are to the same effect. The king wishes for 

called him back " and they talk thus privily : 'Thou ^ 

knowest not yet fully all things concerning thy 

journey. My will is fully settled that thou be 

Canterbury's archbishop.' At this the blessed 

Thomas smileth somewhat, l pointing to the armhole 

of the kirtle he wore, saying deftly : ' Behold, my 

lord, what a religious and holy person you are minded 

to install in that exalted seat, and over the many 

monks and holy persons who worship God there. 

But in sooth it were better that you should not set 

your mind so hard on this change in me, for if this 

ever should come to pass by the long-suffering of 

God, surely your favour would depart from me 

speedily. And withal you have in your realm such 

laudable persons as that my fleshly feebleness fareth 

low before their feet. It might come to pass, too, 

my lord, should my affairs take this shift, that I 

might turn out right unlike, and of a different mind, 

to him who now standeth here before you ; yea, and 

many would they be who would give themselves to 

carrying slander between us. I therefore pray, in all 

humbleness, that you go somewhere else.' Having 

thus spoke, he boweth to the king and walketh out 

of the chamber." 

The protest and warning were in vain. Bonitho Steps 
tells a similar tale of Hildebrand. Henry would 
listen to no objection when his mind was made up, 

1 Robertson (Becket, p. 38) noted this, but Dr. Radford 
(Thomas of London, p. 198, note) criticised him, not observing 
this authority, which goes beyond Herbert here in detail. 

4 (3316) 


now or ever. Several advisers, including his mother, 
had already warned him against the choice, but in 
vain. He repeated his decision in public, and to 
Richard de Lucy, his faithful justiciar, he commended 
the chancellor as he would commend his own son, 
and with him into England he sent the bishops 
Walter of Rochester (Becket's predecessor as arch- 
deacon), Hilary of Chi Chester, Bartholomew of Exeter 
(all names often repeated in the letters of the later 
years), and the abbat of Battle, whose rights king 
and chancellor had secured. Richard de Lucy lived 
to be excommunicated by the man whose interest he 
was now pledged to serve. 

Whether or no he had looked forward to the 
primacy Thomas was now reluctant to receive it. 
He had come to know the king so thoroughly, he 
had come perhaps to know the manner in which he 
designed to deal with the Church, that he would fain 
have drawn back when the moment came. He was 
warm-hearted, impulsive, affectionate ; his letters 
in later years must be hypocritical indeed if they do 
not prove a real love for his friend and master : he 
would dread the breach of friendship, and, if there 
were anything in his life to show a trace of personal 
timidity we might think that he would dread the 
issue of a conflict with such a king. But he dreaded, 
one may be sure, the conflict itself, not its issues. 
Yet there is nothing to show that he foresaw in any 
detail the nature of the conflict. Some of his bio- 
graphers think, too, that the flesh was weak : he 
shrank from the hard life that lay before a true shep- 
herd of the flock. He had put off the deacon : he 
feared to put on the priest still more, the primate. 

But he gave way. The Cistercian Henry of Pisa, 


cardinal and papal legate, pressed on him to yield. 
He must not give up the opportunity of doing such 
great service to the Church. He yielded, and having 
once accepted the charge he was not the man to 
withdraw an inch from its demands. He went to 
England prepared for all that lay before him. 

But first he did his last act of faithfulness in a 
lay charge. He induced the bishops and abbats 
to swear fealty to the young Henry, and himself 
" did homage to him first of them all, saving only his 
allegiance to the king, so long as he should live and 
wish to stay at the head of the realm." 

Meanwhile the king's will was being carried out. 
The justiciar and the bishops went to Canterbury 1 Election 
and there Richard de Lucy addressed the monks of of 41 } e 
Christ Church. They knew the king to be most Christ 
observant of the things of God, he said, and to regard Church, 
the Church of Canterbury with filial love, humbly and 
faithfully. He gave them his leave to choose a new 
archbishop, and prayed that they should make a wise 
choice, for otherwise grave dangers would befall the 
whole Church. Then the prior and the older and 
wiser monks withdrew to consider, and very soon 
saw that they must do nothing without the counsel 
of the bishops and the justiciar. They returned to 
ask advice, and, the advice given, all with one voice, 
bishops and monks, chose Thomas the chancellor. 
But when the whole chapter considered the matter, 
many, says Herbert of Bosham, were against such a 

1 This account comes from Anonymus I (Materials, 
Vol. IV), whom Mr. Freeman (Contemp. Rev., 1878) and Fr. 
John Morris (Life, 1885 ed.) identify with Roger, a monk of 
Pontigny, who is said by Thomas of Froidmont to have 
written a life of Becket. But the evidence for the identification 
is certainly not sufficient. 



choice : the chancellor, they said, was better fitted 
to wield a sword than to rule a great Church ; and, 
besides, Canterbury had always been designed by 
S. Augustine himself to be a monastic church, and 
should not be ruled by a secular. But the opposition 
did not prevail, and the election was unanimous. 

Then the choice was submitted to the bishops at 
Westminster : all the bishops, abbats and priors of 
the province were summoned, and with them, in the 
refectory of the abbey, sat young Henry, the king's 
son. One only protested against the choice, and that 
was Gilbert Foliot, bishop of Hereford, a stern and 
learned monk, strict and bitter, and an ascetic who 
never took wine or meat. He declared that Thomas 
who had been a persecutor of the Church, must not 
be chosen : he had destroyed the Church, held her 
in despite, and scattered her goods : the monks had 
done wrong in choosing him. Foliot had already 
refused to administer the diocese of London when 
the bishop, Richard de Belmeis, was paralysed ; it 
was, as it seemed, only with reluctance, a little later, 
that he accepted the see when it became vacant. 
Some had named him as the fit successor of Theobald. 
His opposition to the choice of Thomas, recalled again 
with bitterness four years later, was overcome. 

Henry, bishop of Winchester, a Cistercian, once 
legate, and a statesman among the most prominent in 
the days of Stephen, announced the bishop's assent 
to the election, and adjured Thomas to serve the 
Heavenly King better and with stronger will than 
he had served the earthly. " From Saul the 
persecutor became Paul." 

The formal assent of the king was given by the 
child Henry. Full release from all secular obligations 


was prayed and granted. 1 Thomas accepted the 
charge ; some say that he then declared that he 
would defend the liberties of the Church against the 

It was the Wednesday after Whit-Sunday. He 
prepared at once to go to Canterbury. As he rode 
thither, with attendants clerk and lay, he spoke to 
Herbert of Bosham, as perhaps to others, bidding 
him to show him always how others judged him and 
to tell him always when he acted wrongly : " four 
eyes," he said, " are better than two." He told, too, 
a dream he had had the night, before of a venerable 
man who intrusted to him ten talents. His mind was 
dwelling on what faithfulness should mean in his 
new charge, and how he should attain to it. When 
the journey ended he was received at Canterbury 
" as the custom is, with hymns and spiritual songs." 

The Ember fasts of Wednesday and Friday pre- Ordination 
pared for the ordination as priest on Saturday. In to . th e 
the cathedral church, Walter, bishop of Rochester, 
his predecessor as archdeacon, and the vicar of the 
Church of Canterbury for episcopal acts during the 
vacancy of the see, ordained him to the priesthood. 

Next day he was consecrated by Henry, bishop of Consecra- 
Winchester, assisted by Nigel of Ely, the famous V n ^ d 
statesman of the ministerial house founded by Roger 1162. 
of Salisbury, the servant of Henry I, Robert of Bath, 
Jocelin of Salisbury, William of Norwich, Hilary of 
Chichester, Richard of Lichfield, Bartholomew of 
Exeter, Robert of Lincoln, Walter of Rochester, 
Nicholas of Llandaff, David of S. David's, Gilbert of 

1 It seems impossible, in face of an accumulation of testi- 
mony, to doubt this, though the place and date may be 
doubtful. Cf. Radford, op. cit., p. 220, note 1. 



Hereford, and Godfrey of S. Asaph. Roger of Pont 
1'Eveque, archbishop of York, his old rival, had 
claimed the right of consecration as inherent in his 
see ; but the claim was rejected because Roger had 
made no profession of obedience to Canterbury. 
A claim is said to have been made by a Welsh bishop, 
as senior by consecration of all the bishops, but 
the dates confute the story. On Sunday, June 3rd, 
1162, the octave of Pentecost, Thomas of London 
was consecrated and enthroned as archbishop of 

Immediately afterwards, contrary to what would 
in later years have been considered orthodox custom 
but in accord with the usage of the day, he said " his 
first mass " in the chapel of the Blessed Trinity at the 
east end of the cathedral church. 

"This chapel," says Fr. Morris, 1 who made a 
loving study of Canterbury as it was in Becket's day, 
" was his favourite resort when he was in Canterbury. 
Here he said mass both before his exile and after his 
return. Here he would come to assist privately at 
the office of the monks in choir, and he would fre- 
quently retire to the same chapel for prayer. On 
a screen on the right of the high altar, between it 
and the chapel of the blessed Trinity, lay S. Odo ; 
on the left, S. Wilfrid ; by the south wall of the 
chapel was the resting-place of Lanfranc, and by 
the north wall that of Theobald. Beneath was the 
crypt, containing on the south side an altar dedicated 
to S. Augustine, the Apostle of England, and on the 
north side the altar of S. John the Baptist. Between 
these two altars in the crypt S. Thomas was buried 
the day after his martyrdom, and there his body lay 

1 Life of S. Thomas of Canterbury, i, 69. 



until the site of the chapel he had loved best in life 
was prepared to receive his shrine. The altar-stone 
was prized on which the Saint had said his first Mass, 
and of it an altar was made that was dedicated to 
S. John the Evangelist." 

The mass in that chapel was remembered in the Trinity 
consecration of that special day. Gervase of Canter- Sunda y 
bury tells that the new archbishop instituted the 
festival of the Holy Trinity to be for ever observed 
on the octave of Pentecost. Hitherto where such a 
special festival had been observed the dates had been 
different in different places, and the Roman Church 
(which still numbers the Sundays after Pentecost) had 
not observed it. The usage begun by Becket spread 
over the whole Church till John XXII accepted it 
for all the churches under his supremacy in the 
fourteenth century. After the consecration of the 
new choir at Canterbury in 1220 the whole of the 
cathedral church, which had before from time to time 
been so called, bore permanently the dedication to the 
Holy Trinity. 1 

So Thomas entered upon his great charge. And 
he entered on it in the spirit of renunciation. If he 
was not yet a monk he was soon to become a regular, 
The monks of Christ Church, ever eager to find fault, habit, 
murmured that he still wore the secular habit ; one 
of his household told him a dream which ordered him 
to change his garb : it is not likely that he needed 
such a warning. Within a few days of his consecra- 
tion, it seems probable for he was certainly a secular 
priest when he was consecrated he went to the 

1 Cf. Dr. R. L. Poole in English Historical Review, xv, 86, 
but see Materials, vi, 418, where a letter of Alexander III is 
addressed to the Convent of the Holy Trinity. 


abbey of Merton, laid down " his costly weeds " 
and took " the black cappa and white surplice with 
the ordination of a canon regular." This was the 
habit of the Augustinian canons : a monk, strictly 
speaking, Becket never became, though he wore the 
Cistercian cowl, four years later, at Pontigny. We 
have no reason to suppose that he ever took monastic 
vows ; if he had done so his biographer would be 
sure to have told it. His garb, as Gamier says, was 
partly regular, partly secular. But a life of rule he 
certainly adopted. 

Consecrated on June 3rd, 1162, he received the 
pallium from Alexander III, in exile at Montpellier, 
on August 10th. Thus the English State and Church 
and the Roman pontiff had combined to confer, or 
recognise, his powers. He entered upon his work 
with a determination to cast off all that had been 
purely secular in his life. His biographers without 
exception see that there was a real change, a real 
renunciation. " Sinner that I am," says Herbert of 
Bosham, " for having attempted to describe him, who 
have not myself been with Moses to the top or Joshua 
to the foot of the mount." What this involved 
William Fitz-Stephen thus tells 1 

" The archbishop, in his consecration, was anointed 
with the visible unction of God's mercy, and putting 
off the secular man, was clothed in Jesus Christ ; he 
cast aside the temporal duties of the chancellor ; and 
how to discharge the functions of a good archbishop 
alone occupied his thoughts. 

" To this end he kept watch over his mind with 
all diligence : his words were serious for edification 
of the hearers ; his works were those of mercy and 

1 Materials, iii, 37, sqq. 


piety ; his thoughts, those of righteousness and 
equity. Clad in sackcloth of the coarsest kind, 
reaching to his thighs and covered with vermin, he 
mortified his flesh by spare diet, and his general drink 
was water, in which hay had been boiled. 1 He 
always, however, took the first taste of the wine, and 
then gave it to those who sat at table with him : he 
ate a portion of the meat that was placed before him, 
but fed chiefly on bread. All things, however, are 
clean to the clean, and fault lies not in the food but in 
the appetite. He often exposed his naked back to the 
lash of the discipline. Immediately over the sack- 
cloth he wore a monk's habit, as being abbat of the 
monks of Canterbury ; above this he wore the dress 
of a canon, that he might be in conformity with the 
clerks. But the stole, that sweet yoke of Christ, was 
ever, day and night, around his neck. His counte- 
nance externally was fashioned like that of the 
multitude, but in his inward soul he was very different. 
In these respects he took for his pattern S. Sebastian 
and S. Cecilia ; the former of whom, beneath the 
covering of a military cloak, bore the spirit of a soldier 
of Christ, whilst the latter, subduing the flesh with 
sackcloth, appeared outwardly adorned in vestments 
wrought with gold. In his table and his dress he 
studied to be really religious, rather than to seem so. 
Intent on prayer, he endeavoured to reconcile, and 
in a manner to unite his created spirit to the Creator 
Spirit. As the interpreter between God and men, 
he in his prayers commended man to God, whilst 
in his preaching he commended God to man. He 
was zealous in reading the Scriptures, and had by 

1 Was this for ascetic reasons, or a sort of toast and water ? 
Robertson calls it fennel-water, 


him one learned in the sacred page. Sometimes after 
dinner he conferred with his clerks, hearing them 
and asking them questions. His companions at 
meals were religious and clerks virtuous and learned. 
He had, in the same way, a household chosen, with 
whom all good men were hospitably entertained, and 
treated with every respect. In almsgiving he was 
most munificent, for he sometimes sent four or five 
marks to the hospitals and poor colleges ; sometimes 
he sent meat and provisions. 

" His predecessor, Theobald, of blessed memory, 
had doubled the regular alms of the bishops, his 
predecessors : and now Thomas, in the spirit of pious 
rivalry, doubled all Theobald's donations. In order 
to fulfil his holy purpose, he set aside the tenth part 
of everything he received, from whatever source it 
was derived. In his secret cell he every day, kneeling 
on his knees, washed the feet of thirteen beggars, in 
memory of Christ : he then, and after a full refection, 
gave four shillings to each of them. If he was on any 
occasion, though seldom, prevented from doing this 
in his own person, he took care to have the duty 
discharged by deputy. In his solitary hours, it was 
marvellous how plentifully he overflowed with tears, 
and when he was serving at the altar, you would fancy 
that he had before him our Lord's passion bodily in 
the flesh. He handled the holy sacraments with awe 
and reverence, so that his very manner confirmed the 
faith and conduct of the beholders. 

" Further : he received into his house the wander- 
ing and needy : he clothed many against the severities 
of winter. At Canterbury he often betook himself 
to the cloisters, where he sat, like one of the monks 
who generally sit there, studying in some useful book : 


afterwards he went to visit the sick monks, and to 
learn their wishes, that he might gratify them. He 
was the comforter of the oppressed, the husband of 
the widowed, the friend of orphans. He was, more- 
over, humble and affable to the mild, but severe to 
the proud. Against the injustice and insolence of 
the powerful he was lifted up like a strong tower 
against Damascus ; nor could the prayers or letters 
of the king himself or any other person in favour of 
anyone prevail unless according to righteousness. 

" The purity of his life was now perfect, he who 
even when chancellor had never passed the bounds 
of purity and honour. He was a second Moses, often 
entering and going out from the tabernacle of the 
Lord : entering it at the accepted time for the con- 
templation of God, and going out from it in order to 
perform some work of piety towards his neighbours. 
He was a second Jacob, at one time paying his visits 
to the more prolific Leah, at another, to the more 
beautiful Rachel. x He was like one of God's angels 
on the ladder, whose top reached to heaven, now 
descending to lighten the wants of man, now ascending 
to the gate of Divine Majesty, and the heavenly 
splendour. Aloof from the transitory things of this 
world, he gazed with ardour on the things that are 
above. His mind was bent on those virtues which 
render happy this present life, and earn for us the 
life which is to come. His prime counsellor was 
Reason, which ever ruled his evil passions and mental 
impulses, as a mistress rules her servants. Under 
her guidance he was conducted to virtue, which, 
wrapped up in itself, spurns everything that opposes 

1 What Fitz-Stephen means by this, one wonders. I use 
Dr. Giles's periphrasis. 


it, and deriving its origin from itself, again returns 
to itself, and embracing everything within itself, 
never looks abroad for anything additional. He 
possessed virtue of four kinds. Prudence, which 
gave him discernment in the notice of things, in the 
estimate of persons, time, and place, in the avoidance 
of evil, and the choice of good. He possessed Justice 
(Righteousness), whereby he studied to preserve to 
God and his neighbour that which belonged to each. 
Fortitude, which vindicates in adversity, and protects 
the mind from the pain of present evils, and the fear 
of future ones. Temperance, which in prosperity 
checked all tendency to immoderate indulgence and 
recalled him from all licentiousness and desire of the 
things of this world, as well as from indecent mirth. 
These four virtues form the true four-horse chariot 
of Aminadab ; the first of Diatessarons ! the true 
harmony of man's life ! This is that sweet and 
delectable concert among men, which fills the ears 
of God, and brings us to that happy state of being, 
where apart from every evil, we shall enjoy this 
accumulation of everything that is good. 

" This state of being was the archbishop's, and by 
it was he supremely blessed : he studied to do all 
things firmly, finely, weightily, and honourably, to 
refer all things to the test of wisdom, to govern 
himself ; to listen to the voice of wisdom, not of the 
mob ; to fear no snare of fortune ; to show himself 
strongly guarded and impregnable against adversity ; 
to believe himself born not for himself, but for all 
who needed his assistance, and especially for his own 
church, the government of which was on his shoulders ; 
to contemplate divine things, even whilst he was on 
earth ; to imitate Jesus Christ, Who was born and 


came down from heaven to suffer ; to love Him and 
to keep His commands, and to seek the salvation of 
himself and the souls committed to his charge. From 
this it came to pass that Thomas obtained grace in 
the sight of God, and solid and open glory among 
men ; all the good bearing testimony in his praise, 
and passing an unbought judgment upon his worth. 
This is that which responds to virtue, as the echo 
answers to the voice, as the image corresponds to its 
model. Glory is the companion of those who live 
well, and as it is not to be sought, so is it not to be 
rejected, but to be ascribed to God. The apostle 
says, ' For if I shall wish to glory, I shall be foolish, 
but I will speak the truth.' Thomas feared this 
glory and rejected it : lest pride should creep in ; 
seeing that it is written, ' however righteous, yet you 
never can be secure.' There is also another vain and 
false glory, which the proud and vain, rich men and 
hypocrites, seek ; a specious likeness of true glory, but 
with no recommendation such as is derived from 
solid virtue. To the eye, indeed, it appears like it, 
but it is not so in reality. As the good fear the 
approach of true glory, so do the evil court that which 
is spurious ; or, if they do a work of praise, by their 
seeking to derive from it glory or reward, they lose 
both the name and the merit. 

" The glorious archbishop, Thomas, contrary to the 
expectations of the king and of all his men, so 
abandoned the world, and so suddenly felt that 
change which is the handwork of the Most High, that 
it filled all with astonishment." 

A strange mingling, this long eulogy of his chaplain's, 
of sincerity with the curious, medieval, theological 
affectation. Thomas himself could set before his 


soul a new ideal ; but his disciples could only express 
that ideal in conventional pomposities. 

His daily Further details of the archbishop's life are added 
round. by many another of the biographers, and there are 
few which we have any reason to distrust. Herbert 
of Bosham, who was most constantly at his side, 
gives some which are perhaps the most interesting. 
He tells how he would attend his master quite early 
in the morning when he studied the Holy Scriptures, 
how continually, even when he was riding (an 
exercise which he saw no ascetic reason to abandon), 
he would talk of them he carried a manuscript 
often in his loose sleeves and how often he would 
sigh to " lay aside the cares of the world and in peace 
and quietness attend to sacred studies." " How 
carefully," he would say, " would I atone, if I might, 
for the time I have lost ! " His day was ruled by 
monastic hours. At midnight he would rise to give 
thanks unto God in the choir ; then he would wash 
the feet of thirteen poor men and give alms, before 
dawn ; so hereafter should the light reveal his 
humility and charity. At daybreak he went to bed, 
but rested only a short time. At nine he came out 
from his room to say mass or be present at it ; " for 
he said not mass every day ; and this was not through 
neglect, as he himself said, but through reverence." 
When he put on the vestments his eyes were often full 
of tears, so deeply did he feel the sacred work he 
was to set about. When he was not celebrating 
himself, he would read devotional books during the 
preparation, often the prayers of S. Anselm. He 
said mass very quickly not like Roger of Salisbury, 
famous for his " hunting mass," but to avoid the 
chance of distraction. Accustomed, like all busy 


men, to concentration of mind, he yet knew the 
danger of concentration for too long. ' Ye shall 
eat in haste, for it is the Lord's Passover." 

After his mass he would hear suits in his court, if 
such there were, refusing all presents that it was 
possible to decline. 

At his meals, as has been said, there was every 
appearance of profusion and delicacy, but he himself 
ate but little often only a little partridge or some 
other dainty thing. Herbert of Bosham tells that a 
monk who was a guest at his table one day smiled 
at this, and Becket saw it and said : " If I err not, 
brother, there is more greediness in your eating beans 
than in my eating pheasant," which was true, for the 
man cared only for quantity, not quality. At the 
dinner in his hall he sat in the middle of the table, 
looking down the hall. On his left sat monks ; on 
his right those whom Herbert calls the " eruditi The 
S. Thomae," who included John of Salisbury (philo- " eruditi 
sopher, theologian and man of letters), Robert Foliot, S.Thomae." 
Ralph of Sar, Lombard of Piacenza (afterwards 
archbishop of Benevento many passed from 
England to Sicily in those days, and back, as Becket's 
letters show, his own kindred among them), Reginald 
the Lombard (son of the bishop of Salisbury, and 
himself afterwards archbishop of Canterbury for less 
than a month), Gerard la Pacelle, Hugh of Nunant, 
and Gilbert Glanville all of whom became English 
bishops, and the last the preacher of the Third Crusade. 
In the hall at other tables sat the knights and other 
attendants, so placed that they might not be wearied 
by the pious book that was read, for the clergy's 
hearing, during the meal. 

After dinner the archbishop and his friends talked 



His charge 
to the 

together, and sometimes he would take a much- 
needed nap. The rest of the day would be devoted to 
study, often (as Fitz-Stephen says) in the cloisters, 
to visiting the sick and other acts of charity. His 
generosity is reported to have far exceeded that of 
his predecessors. He had, it may be inferred, a much 
larger private income, for he most probably saved 
a good deal, lavish though he was, as chancellor. 

Details of all his life at this time, replenished no 
doubt by memories of his exile, are very full. It might 
be wearisome to reproduce more. It may suffice to 
say that they all point to two things a real change 
in manner of life and an eager attention to the duties 
of the episcopal office. 

His semi-monastic dress, as has been said, marked 
his renunciation. He wore it, the black cappa 
reaching to his feet, all his life : at critical times the 
biographers record the fact. It was his memorial 
of his school days at Merton, whence Robert the Prior 
had come to be with him as his constant companion. 
His stole he wore continually, perhaps that he might 
be ready (it has rather fancifully been suggested 
for it was not difficult to get a stole quickly or even 
to carry it in a pocket) to give confirmation at any 
moment. Benedict of Peterborough tells that, unlike 
other bishops, he would always get off his horse to 
confer that sacrament ; and at places where this 
happened crosses were often set up, and miracles 
were heard of there in later days. He was careful, 
indeed, in all the Sacraments : it was especially 
noted in regard to ordination and those whom he 
admitted to the sacred gift of orders. 

Herbert of Bosham gives his charge to those he was 
to ordain at the September Ember season of 1162 


" I beseech you, brethren, by the mercy of God that 
you suffer not my hands to be laid suddenly upon you 
except you be ready to worthily minister in the Church 
of God according to the nature of your office ; lest 
I be partaker in other men's sins who feel myself too 
much weighted by the multitude of my own. For 
sure it is that he who ordains, knowingly and without 
much probation, an unworthy person, even if the 
ordained afterwards be reformed, gravely offendeth 
God ; for if the ordained man be not reformed, he 
who ordains defiles himself with the sins of the 
ordained, with those especially which he doeth after 
the day of his ordination. Wherefore the apostle 
commandeth Timothy, saying : ' Lay hands suddenly 
on no man, lest you be partaker of other men's sins.' 
And you, therefore, my brethren, we forbid on behalf 
of Almighty God and ourselves, that any suffer the 
yoke of the Lord to be placed on him by us, if he feel 
himself unfit. Let him abide rather in that which 
is good, so long as he hath not strength for that 
which is better." Such words in the midst of his 
address to the ordinands showed how deeply the 
archbishop felt the grave responsibility of his office. 1 
The record is uncommon in the lives of English 
medieval prelates. 

Such was the life and such the aim of the man 
who had so lately seemed to live simply as a layman, 
moral and religious, but still ostentatiously secular. 
It was not long before the news of the change spread. 
The little Henry, who was often with the archbishop, 
his former tutor, would mark it and question his 
father, it may be, as to what it meant. But Henry 
the king was still for some time abroad. The 

1 Herbert of Bosham. Materials iii, 239. 


erudite and the religious, however, had long tongues, 
and many of them loved to use the pen. The good- 
ness of the new archbishop could not be hid. Thus, 
Arnulf of Lisieux, never more than a fair-weather 
friend, wrote to him at this time of holiness, popu- 
larity and exaltation i probably before the end of 
1161 wrote to him with an effusive gratitude for 
his letters because of the holiness of his life, for in 
him " a great prophet has arisen among us and God 
hath visited His people." It was not long before the 
voice of such friends sounded a different note. 

1 Materials, v, 20-2 1*^. 



THOMAS, archbishop of Canterbury, was still chan- 
cellor. There can be no doubt that the king desired 
him to retain the office. The Emperor had for The 
chancellor of Italy the archbishop of Koln, for ceUor 
chancellor of Germany the archbishop of Mainz. 
Such an association of a national Church and State 
had proved very useful during disputes with the 
Papacy ; and the king foresaw such a dispute in 
England. It is strange, but it was thoroughly 
characteristic of Henry, in whom insight was the one 
qualification of a statesman that was conspicuously 
lacking, that he should have fancied Becket had no 
similar prevision. It might well have been, for the 
archbishop's letters in the following years show him 
a singularly candid critic of the Papacy, that he 
would not have hesitated to engage on the king's 
side in a dispute with the Pope, but the interests of 
the Church, notably of the Church of England, were 
another matter and a matter now especially committed 
to his charge. 

One of the first instances of this care is to be found 
in the pains he took to procure a fit successor to the 
late bishop of London ; and the generosity of his 
nature is to be seen in this letter to Gilbert Foliot, 
bishop of Hereford, 1 already his opponent, if not 
his rival 

" That the City of London surpasses in grandeur 

1 Materials, v. 26. 



all the other cities of this kingdom is well known to 
all of us, my brother : for the business of the whole 
realm is therein transacted ; it is the residence of the 
king, and frequented more than any other by his 
nobles. For this reason it is important that the 
Church of London, which has now lost its ruler, 
should receive for its new bishop a man whose 
personal merit, attainments in learning, and prudence 
in managing public business, shall not be unworthy 
of the dignity of that see. After much deliberation in 
this matter, it is the unanimous request of the clergy, 
the will of the king and myself, and the apostolic 
decision, that the general welfare of the kingdom, 
and the interests of the Church, will best be promoted, 
by your being translated to exercise the pastoral care 
over the diocese of London. To this end I have 
received the instructions of the lord pope, and 
I enjoin you, by his authority, to give your assent 
without delay to the election of the Church of London, 
passed in presence of our lord the king, and with the 
consent of the whole clergy and ourself ; and to take 
the government of the aforesaid church into your 
hands with promptitude corresponding to the neces- 
sity which exists for its charge to be committed to 
the counsel and government of such a person. And 
I entreat of you, my brother, that whereas you are 
bound to this by virtue of your obedience to ourself, 
so you may be led by your own inclinations to under- 
take the duties of this important trust. Thus, not 
only sincere affection, but also proximity of place 
will unite us both in the same good work, to give one 
another mutual assistance in ministering to the 
necessities of God's Church." 
This letter, and one from Henry himself, overcame 


the reluctance of the stern Cistercian, and Gilbert 
Foliot, bitter to others as severe with himself, and 
proud in asserting the dignity of his position if not 
consciously ambitious for his own advancement, came 
to London, to prove the ablest and most relentless of 
the primate's enemies. 

Soon after his consecration Becket resigned the 
chancellorship. The date cannot certainly be fixed. 
The signature of the archbishop does not contain the chancellor- 
word chancellor after his consecration, but this would shi P- 
in any case hardly have been given. There is nothing 
to show when the office was actually abandoned. 
Henry and queen Eleanor returned to England on 
January 25th, 1 162, and were met by their son and the 
archbishop at Southampton. In February king and 
archbishop were at Oxford together, in March at 
Westminster. On the 17th of March Henry spent 
Palm Sunday with the archbishop at Canterbury, 
and two days later they were together at Windsor, 
urging Gilbert Foliot to accept the bishopric of 
London. During the months that had passed since 
Henry's return a second cause of disagreement had 
arisen. Not only was Henry angry that his friend 
should have given up his personal service but he 
resented the delay made by Becket before he surren- 
dered the archdeaconry. There has been much 
dispute as to this. The explanation that may be 
suggested is that Becket wished to settle all the 
matters as to the respective rights of archbishop and 
archdeacon before a new archdeacon was appointed. 
He did not succeed in doing so, and Geoffrey Ridel, 
whom the king appointed, proved to be one of his 
most bitter enemies. 

Already men were bringing tales against him to 



His the king. He had begun to reclaim for the Church 

resumption o f Canterbury possessions which had been taken from 
of Church , , , ,f, , . , , , .. ,, , . , 

property. ner : an d although mighty folk or even the king s 

own men now hold these properties, already they 
must give them up, for in this matter the archbishop 
maketh all men equal. All properties which have 
lately fallen off by want of power in the bailiffs of 
the Church or by reason of indulgence shown to 
mighty men, such, whereof he knoweth for sure the 
Church is the owner, he draweth with a strong hand, 
and without any proof at all, back to the arch-see, 
saying that he will have no litigation about such 
properties and privileges which he knoweth, without 
any doubt to be in the rightful possession of the 
Church, if she is to be left unrobbed. But every- 
where, where the property has lapsed for a length of 
time, he bringeth forth the testimony of men or of 
trustworthy documents, and thus taketh them again 
under the Church." This proceeding, says the Saga, 
though laudable, was not liked any the more. 

Among the properties thus reclaimed were the 
tower of Rochester, Gundulf's splendid work, and the 
castle of Tunbridge, and, among benefices, the church 
of Eynesford. The patronage of this last had been 
seized by William of Eynesford, who expelled the 
clerk nominated by the archbishop, was excommuni- 
cated, and applied to the king. At his intercession 
he was absolved, but Henry at Windsor this must 
have been about March 31st was heard to say of 
Becket, " now he has my favour no more." Those 
who sought to make ill-blood between king and 
archbishop had hitherto tried in vain. Some of them 
had crossed to Normandy and told their complaints 

1 Saga, i, 119. 


in the king's ear, but he had put them aside ; and 
when they met at Southampton, the young Henry 
and the archbishop walking hand in hand, " the 
king showeth himself right blithe, rising up from 
his seat to meet the archbishop, and they kiss each 
other lovingly." Still in the early months of 1163 
king and archbishop talked, " as was their wont," 
of matters of government and policy. It was not 
till the resignation of the chancellorship and the case 
of William of Eynesford that the first signs of dissen- 
sion appeared. To this was added, Grim says, the 
stern way in which Thomas looked upon the clergy 
of the Court, lax as such men are tempted to be. And 
this brings us to the summer of 1163. 

During the late spring for about a month the The 
archbishop, with Roger of Pont 1'Eveque, archbishop ^U^ 
of York, had been absent from England, attending June, '1163. 
the Council at Tours held by Alexander III, the Pope, 
who, in the Schism, was accepted by those who were 
not of the emperor's party. It was at Tours that 
he spent the anniversary of his consecration, the 
octave of Whit-Sunday, 1163. The Council itself 
was of no particular importance, but to it Thomas 
submitted the claim of Anselm, his great predecessor, 
for canonization, a claim which was never granted till 
1494 and then by Alexander VI. A letter of Alex- 
ander III refers it to a provincial council of bishops. 
But at the Council, as more than one writer suggests, 
Becket may well have received an additional stimulus 
to resist the claims of the king against the Church. 

The date of the excommunication of William of The causes 
Eynesford is uncertain. The seemingly trivial dispute strife, 
with Clarembald, abbat of S. Augustine's, Canter- 
bury, which ended not with S. Thomas's life, as to 




dispute at 
July ist, 


of the 
clergy in 

where he should receive the primate's blessing, and 
whether he should make profession of obedience, 
began about this time ; and the king was the abbat's 
patron. But the first open breach was at Woodstock 
about July 1st, 1163, and the dispute concerned 

The sheriff's aid, " a customary charge, varying in 
amount, paid over locally to the sheriffs," 1 had long 
been paid from the shires. It was, says Edward 
Grim, 2 a sum of two shillings from each hide, and no 
doubt was supposed to be used for the defence of the 
shires. Henry wished to take it simply as revenue, 
to be paid in to the Exchequer. Becket, a constitu- 
tionalist to the core, declared that it should not then 
be paid, but that if the sheriffs did their duty thus 
should receive the payment as of old. Henry swore 
by God's eyes that it should be as he willed ; Becket, 
" by the reverence of those eyes by which you have 
sworn," that it should not be thus paid from his lands 
or those of the Church. The opposition was that of a 
statesman to an arbitrary innovation, rather than 
that of an ecclesiastic. Henry so Grim says 
yielded, but his anger was not set at rest. And almost 
immediately there arose the real matter of permanent 
division, the constitutional question of the relation 
of the Church courts to those of the State. 

For some time, the biographers tell us, Henry had 
been considering the position of the clergy in regard 
to the law of the State. During the reign of Stephen 
the independence of the Church as an Estate, and of its 

1 Mr. Round, Feudal England, p. 501, was the first to make 
this clear. Dr. Stubbs had spoken of the sum in question 
as probably Danegeld. 

a Materials, ii, 374. 


individual members, had grown visibly. Monasteries, 
enjoying exemption from many of the claims 
of ordinary life, had spread widely over England : 
during the nineteen years of king Stephen, under the 
influence of the Cistercian revival, more religious 
houses had been built than were founded at any other 
period of the same length in English history. The 
clergy had exercised almost a commanding influence 
on the decision of questions of national concern : first 
Henry of Winchester, then Theobald of Canterbury, 
was the arbiter at times of crisis. The very charters 
of Stephen bore witness to the exceptional position of 
the clergy. As the civil courts, central and local, 
ceased to work regularly during the wars, the Church 
courts naturally stepped into their place. Men '/ 
brought suits where they could procure a rapid and 
probably a just decision, and where, on the whole, 
the forms were less complicated and the proceedings 
more intelligible. When Henry began to restore the 
working of the lay courts, and designed to make the 
supremacy of the Crown uniformly effective every- 
where throughout the land, over all persons and in 
all causes, the position of the Church, coherent and 
fixed in its isolation, confronted him. And it seemed 
that a theory of independence involved practical 
results of scandal and wrong. 

The matter came to a crisis, no doubt by the The case 
king's arrangement, about July, 1163, when Henry of Philip 
and Becket were both in London. Simon Fitz-Peter, de Brois ' 
recently one of the king's justices in eyre in Bedford- 
shire, complained that he had been insolently treated 
by a clerk, Philip de Brois. It was the revival, says 
Edward Grim, of a charge long forgotten. He had 
been accused of murder, tried in the court of the 


bishop of Lincoln and acquitted. But Henry, or 
" one of the king's officers, wishing, from an old 
grudge he bore him, that the clerk should be ruined," 
brought up the charge again and insisted that it 
should be heard in the lay court. The clerk refused 
to be tried again and poured abuse upon the justice. 
The justice formally complained to the king. Henry 
insisted that the man should be tried again for 
murder and anew for his insulting language. Becket 
claimed the trial for his own court at Canterbury, 
and there the accusation which had already been 
heard and judged was of course dismissed, while for 
the abuse a sentence of scourging was given, with 
a heavy pecuniary punishment. Henry was dis- 
satisfied and declared that the bishops who had 
judged the case had had more respect for the arch- 
bishop than for him. " By God's eyes," he said, 
" you shall make oath to me that you gave a just 
judgment and spared the man not because he was 
a clerk." 

Two other cases were brought up to increase the 
Other dissension. A clerk in the diocese of Salisbury had 

mortally wounded a man : he was brought before 
the bishop in his court. Jocelin of Salisbury, old 
and timid, applied to the archbishop for his advice. 
Becket " writeth back awarding in a full and formal 
sentence, that the priest be degraded from all his 
honours, and move not his foot out of a house of 
penitence for ever." 1 There was the case also of 
a certain clerk of Worcestershire who was said to 
have seduced the daughter of a certain worthy man, 
and on her account to have killed the father himself, 
this clerk the king wished to be tried and judged in 
1 Thomas Saga, i, 143. 


the lay court. The archbishop was for refusing and 
gave the clerk to be kept in custody by the bishop to 
prevent his being handed over to the king's justice. 
Another case was on behalf of a clerk who stole a 
chalice from the Church of S. Mary-le-Bow, and 
whom the king, when he was caught, wished to be 
judged in the secular court. Thomas had him tried 
in his own court and sentenced him to degradation 
and branding. 1 It may be that in thus going beyond 
what Canon Law allowed the archbishop hoped to 
mitigate the king's wrath, as Fitz-Stephen suggests. 
If he did, he was much deceived. 
A council at Westminster on October 1st, 1163, Council at 

brought matters to an issue. It was alleged that the West- 

, , ... , ,, minster, 

cause of summons was to secure the recognition of the Il63 

archbishop of Canterbury as " primate of all Eng- 
land," a title which the archbishop of York refused 
to allow. . But the real object was very different. 
It was the whole question of the right of jurisdiction 
over criminous clerks. Henry complained of the 
venality and the exactions of the archdeacons. 
But their excesses were only the symptoms of a 
deeper disease. Thus the king spoke to the assem- 
bled bishops and abbats, canons and clerks, to "all 
the barons and a multitude of mighty folk." The 
speech as given by the Icelandic Saga 2 is found in 
no other authority but bears the stamp of truth, bitter 
irony veiling a determined purpose 

" We have been silent awhile," he said, " and 
meekly listened how you bishops are willing to dispose 
yourselves towards our royal rights and rule here in 

1 These last two cases are from Fitz-Stephen, Materials, iii, 

2 Thomas Saga, i, 146-148. 


England. Now that we have been watching your 
doings we have been thinking and peacefully searching 
our mind, as to what kind of fault ye might happen 
to have found in us, that we must needs be deemed 
less worthy than other kings, who have been before us, 
to wear an untottering crown, in virtue of such law- 
enactments and royal prerogatives, as each one has 
had and enjoyed in due succession, and no learned 
men before you listed to withdraw from royal honour. 
Now although matters of this kind multiply daily, 
according as your boldness waxeth more and more, 
we yet desire, as at this time, to turn our speech 
chiefly towards those men of forfeited lives whom you 
name clerks, but whom we call so much the worse 
than layfolk, in that they have had the foolhardiness 
to push themselves into the honours and ordinations 
of holy Church, turning her dignity and liberty into 
mockery and fell thraldom ; for they may by rights 
be far rather called the doers of the works of the devil, 
than consecrated clerks, who forbear doing any kind 
of mischief much less even than layfolk who lead 
all the days of their life in honouring and obeying the 
law. Now ye, the bishops, maintain, that it is 
written in your canon, that such dishonourable things 
should be protected, and withdrawn from rightful 
punishment, in that ye think that none beside your- 
selves alone are able to understand the laws of the 
emperor or those of the Church ; but with greater 
truth we know, that there are with us men so wise 
in either law, as to be well fit to root out your own 
misunderstandings or utterly to refute them. These 
men have testified such to be a true interpretation of 
the law, that evil-doers, even such as are ordained, 
shall be delivered unto rightful punishment by kingly 


power. We therefore demand of you, the bishops, 
by the honour and the obedience you owe the Crown, 
that ye deliver all such clerks as you let wrongfully 
slip away from our power into sundry places inland 
as well as abroad, into our hand for rightful punish- 
ment, and as to this matter we desire to have clear 
answers from you." 

Before making answer to this Becket consulted Becket 's 


with the bishops, and they (according to the Saga) f or the 
left the answer to him, promising fidelity to his judg- Church, 
ment ; and he, warning them to be steadfast, 
answered that it was the desire of all the bishops to 
heed the king's will in all things, save only when it 
should set " itself up thwartingly against the will of 
God, and the laws and dignity of the Holy Church." 
And the claim he made was that where Christian law 
was rightly kept a Christian person was not judged 
as an unconsecrated one, and " the ancient decrees 
of the holy fathers ordain even thus : If clerks shall 
be taken in such unseemly deeds as manslaughter, 
theft, or robbery, they shall for a beginning be 
suspended from all offices, and be deprived of all good 
coming from the Church ; then be excommunicated 
and degraded from all orders ; and, thus degraded 
and dishonoured, they are amenable to lay-folk law, 
but not till then." And he added that so long as he 
could hold it up the law of the Church should not fall. 
There are different versions of the speech, but they 
are all unyielding. Some mention the " two swords," 
Church and State jurisdictions separate, and the 
clergy not amenable to lay courts. 

Henry, in great anger, demanded the bishops' 
assent to the customs of his grandfather. Becket 
replied that this should be given to all that was right, 




S Edward 

" saving our consecration and the unimpaired rights 
of God." So the Council was broken up in anger. 

Henry was already endeavouring to win the 
bishops over to his side. Arnulf of Lisieux had his 
clever plan to turn the Church against the arch- 
bishop, his friend. Roger of Pont 1'Eveque was easy 
to win over. A case of clerical crime in his diocese 
had been brought to the king's knowledge in 1158, 
while Becket was still chancellor, and he had then 
asserted clerical privilege. At Westminster he had 
spoken up for the Church. But now with the bishops 
of Lincoln and Chichester the latter had already 
been sharply chidden by Becket he agreed to accept 
the royal customs, if nothing were exacted contrary 
to the rights of their order. To Becket Roger 
appeared as " the incentor and head of all evils." 

Henry had withdrawn from London without asking 
leave of the bishops and without their blessing. He 
had, the morning after the Council, demanded from 
the archbishop the surrender of the manors of 
Berkhamsted and Eye, which he still held, and of the 
tutorship of his boy Henry. There was then, perhaps, 
a pause. 

The next act of archiepiscopal ceremonial performed 
^y Becket was the translation of the body of S. 
Edward Confessor to a dignified shrine in the Abbey 
of Westminster. 1 At the end of the year (December 

1 There is some difficulty about this date. The West- 
minster authorities are not in themselves conclusive on the 
point. Flete (MS. No. 29, in the Chapter library), whose date 
is c. 1421-1465, quoting from Richard of Cirencester, also a 
monk of Westminster (whose date of death the Dean of 
Westminster gives as 1400), says that the body of S. Edward 
was translated in the presence of the king and the arch- 
bishop of Canterbury on October 13th, 1163, being a Sunday. 


22nd) Thomas consecrated the first of the only two 
bishops on whom the grace of episcopacy was conferred 
by his hands, Robert of Melun, who succeeded 
Gilbert Foliot at Hereford the tutor of John of 
Salisbury at Paris. His only other consecration, it 
may be added here, was that of Roger, son to Robert, 
earl of Gloucester, to the see of Worcester, on August 
23rd, 1164. Both were at Canterbury. Before 
either of them the disputes between king and arch- 
bishop had broken out. Becket had pressed upon 

But Herbert of Bosham (Materials, iii, 261) places the 
translation, at which he states that both king and archbishop 
were present, in the same year as the consecration of the 
conventual church at Reading, which was undoubtedly in 
1 164. Bishop Stubbs (preface to Benedictus Abbas, ii, cxxxiv, 
note) endeavoured to reconcile the authorities by the sug- 
gestion that the date of October 13th had been falsely given 
by inference from the later translation. The Dean of West- 
minster (to whose kindness in showing me a learned note of 
his on the question I am deeply indebted) however states 
that a MS. calendar (c. 1210) in the British Museum proves 
that the Feast was observed on that date at the beginning 
of the thirteenth century, and is supported by the West- 
minster Cartulary called Domesday (the date of which is 
the beginning of the fourteenth century). We may from this 
regard October 13th as practically certain for the date of the 
translation. The only difficulty about the year is the state- 
ment of the Chroniclers that Henry left Westminster (after 
the council) early on October 2nd, and there is no proof of his 
returning there soon. But on the other hand the next date 
that of the meeting near Northampton which is also 
given as October, does not make it impossible that both king 
and archbishop were in Westminster on the 13th. Herbert 
of Bosham, however, is at this point extremely uncertain in 
his dates. While he certainly gives the Reading and West- 
minster ceremonials as of the same year he seems to give the 
consecrations to Worcester and Hereford also to one year 
when they were really the one in 1163 and the other in 1164. 
I am on the whole inclined to accept 1163 as the date of the 
translation, but the matter cannot be considered at all 
certain. It is quite possible, as the Dean suggests, that the 
date. October 1st, may antedate the council. 



the king the need of filling the vacant sees, warning 
him gravely : it was another cause of irritation to 
the autocratic monarch. 

Henry had broken finally with his old friend. But 
he gave the archbishop another chance of personal 
submission. They met in a field near Northampton, 
and Henry reproached him for his ingratitude and 
reminded him that he was the son of one of his 
villeins which was rather an insult than an accurate 
statement of fact. Becket replied by a quotation 
from Horace, of which he was rather fond he was 
not, he admitted " atavis editus regibus," but nor was 
S. Peter to whom was given the keys of the kingdom 
of heaven and the rule of the whole Church. " Yes," 
said Henry sharply, " but he died for his Lord." 
" And I will die for my Lord when the time is come," 
was the answer. " You lean too much on the ladder 
you rose on." "I lean on the Lord : cursed is he 
who putteth his trust in man." So they parted, 
Becket still clinging to the phrase on which the 
bishops had agreed, salvo ordine. 

Day by day as Henry pressed his claim and asserted 
it by intrigue and by authority, opposition rose 
against the hardy primate. Gilbert Foliot claimed 
for his see an independence of Canterbury : he had 
delayed and he now refused to profess obedience to 
the primate : he declared that London had excep- 
tional privileges. John of Salisbury mockingly said 
that to win them he would be willing to go back to 
Roman times, make S. Paul's a heathen temple, and 
himself an archflamen. Mockery did not mend 
matters. Some wit to satirise this weakness of 
Foliot's said that he once was awoke in the night 
by a demon who said to him 


"O Giberte Foliot 
Dum revolvis tot et tot 
Deus tuus est Astaroth," 

to whom he, with a " Tace, demon," replied by a 
deserved but -go happily expressed rebuke. And /\ 
close at home Clarembald asserted his independence, 
just outside the precincts of the cathedral church. 

Becket invoked aid from without. If England, in Becket 
the person of king and prelates, was turning against invokes 
him, he was confident that he could fall back on the ^ ope 
support of the Pope, who though in exile at Sens and 
accepted by even less than half Christendom, could 
still say words that might avail. In a letter written 
in September, 1163, about the time of the Westmin- 
ster Council, the archbishop thanked Alexander for 
a " letter of consolation " he had received, and be- 
wailed the storms that were breaking over the Church. 
The iniquity of men waxed strong since they saw the 
weakness of the Roman Church. Secret matters he 
would communicate through a sure messenger for 
safety " when almost all things that are said either 
in the ear or in company are repeated to the king." 
A month later John des Belles-Mains, a Canterbury 
man and companion of Becket in Theobald's house- 
hold, who in this year had become bishop of Poitiers, 
wrote to represent the state of the Pope's opinions. 
The miserable weakness on the part of the papacy 
which prevented a settlement of the matters in dispute 
for ten years and was ultimately responsible for the 
murder of the archbishop, had begun. " You must 
expect nothing from the Curia in anything that might 
offend the king." Exile seemed only too probable, 
but John would share it with his friend. Becket's 
envoy, Master Henry, reported to the same effect. 


While Louis VII offered " the reception of a com- 
panion on the throne " if the archbishop should be 
driven from England, and the Count of Soissons was 
equally sympathetic, the Papal Court, while praising 
his fortitude, was wholly influenced by worldly 
motives. They were terrified at the thought of 
desertion by Henry. In all matters Alexander was 
temporising and feeble. So indeed it proved. He 
tried to propitiate the bishop of London and the 
archbishop of York, and only after some pressure did 
he even forbid the latter the aggression of carrying 
his cross in the province of Canterbury. 

A peace The desire of Alexander III to propitiate Henry 

JP ade at was no doubt mingled with an honest wish to end the 
December, ecclesiastical troubles of England. He wrote to 
1163. Gilbert Foliot, urging him to mediate between king 

and archbishop. He sent Philip, abbat of I'Aumone 
(Blois), to represent him in England and to press 
Becket to yield, with the assurance that it was only 
a formal assent to the ancient customs that Henry 
desired. With the abbat was the bishop elect of 
Hereford, Robert of Melun, and John, count of 
Vendome. They found Becket at Harrow manor, 
where he had first joined the household of Theobald ; 
he submitted, and went to Henry at Oxford. He 
saw the king in the strong castle of Robert d'Oilli, 
whence his mother, the empress-queen, had made 
her romantic escape one snowy night not many 
winters before, and there, with the Pope's envoys 
around him, promised to obey the ancient customs 
of the realm and to submit to the king " in bono." 
This was a practical omission of the saving clause, 
" salvo ordine suo." 
Peace, it might be fancied, was made. But the 


very reverse was the case. Henry regarded the 
concession as a triumph to himself and determined 
to fix it once for all. He sent envoys the servile 
Arnulf of Lisieux, and Richard of Ilchester, arch- 
deacon of Poitiers, soon to become conspicuous 
among Becket's foes to Sens, to demand that Roger 
of York should be made papal legate for all England 
and the archbishop of Canterbury and all his suffra- 
gans be required, by the Pope, to observe the " an- 
cient customs " of the realm. And he summoned 
a Council to meet at Clarendon to receive the 



The To Becket the demand for a public assent to the 

Council of " customs " put the matter in a wholly new light. 1 

ii^f. on> He came to the Council with a mind hesitating and 

undecided. What were the " customs " to which 

he would be required to give this formal consent ? 

The Council sat at Clarendon, a royal hunting-lodge, 
near Salisbury, for a fortnight in January, 1164, from 
the 13th to the 28th. 2 At first it seemed only as if 
what the king demanded was a formal promise of 
obedience. Three days the matter was argued, the 
bishops urging the primate to give way. Thomas 
hesitated : Henry was furious. At last two Templars 
swore to him, as it appeared, on the king's behalf, 
that only a formal and verbal promise to obey the 
customs was needed to bring peace to the Church. 
Foliot declared in later years that Becket said, " It is 
my lord's will that I forswear myself : I must run the 

1 This was admitted by the late Canon Robertson, not a 
very favourable critic of the archbishop, who says that as 
his compliance " had been obtained by the assurance that 
the king had no thought of pressing the matter beyond a 
mere formal submission nay, that he had sworn this to 
certain cardinals the demand that an acknowledgment 
should be publicly made took him wholly by surprise." 
(Becket, p. 96.) 

2 As to the dates see Ey ton's Itinerary of Henry II, and 
Norgate, Angevin Kings, ii, 44 sqq. Stubbs's Select Charters 
gives the day as " quarta die ante Purif. B.V.M." : but if 
that feast is recognised as beginning on its eve, Feb. 1st, 
Jan. 28th would be the fourth day before it, which seems to 
reconcile the different accounts, perhaps, better than Miss 
Norgate' s note. 



risk of perjury now, and then do penance as best 
I may." The words are unlikely enough : if they 
were said, no doubt " my lord " meant the Pope, who 
had put such pressure on him to repudiate his former 
bold attitude, a return to which, the archbishop 
saw, would be inevitable. However this may be, it 
seemed now too late to go back : surely he could 
trust the king's word ; surely he might follow the 
Pope's advice. He promised, in public, to obey the 
laws and customs of the king in good faith, and by 
his advice the other bishops did the same. 

But this was not the end : it was only the beginning 
of new strife. 

Next morning the king ordered the customs of The 
the realm in his grandfather's time to be put in customs of 
writing by the oldest of the barons. The duty was *' realm ' 
discharged, it seems probable, by Richard de Lucy, 
the justiciar, and Jocelin de Balliol. When the 
document appeared it was far from being what Becket 
or the bishops expected. It was a coherent and 
definite attempt to codify the main customs which 
regulated the relations between Church and State ; 
in the interest of a centralising and unifying power 
which should place all law and government under the 
control of the Crown. This was Henry's definite 
policy : it was to this that he devoted his working 
life. Already he had begun to put it into action in 
his foreign dominions, and he never lost an opportu- 
nity, whether the case affected a church or a priest, a 
castle or a baron, of carrying it out in England itself. 
This policy was visibly embodied in the Constitutions 
of Clarendon. The 

The document professed to be a record or recogni- ^on"^^" 
tion of all the customs and liberties and dignities of Clarendon. 


the king's predecessors, particularly of Henry I. 
Briefly they were as follows. 

The first ordered that any dispute as to advowsons 
and the right of presentation to ecclesiastical benefices 
should be decided in the king's court. This was 
contrary to the Church's claim to have jurisdiction 
over her own concerns, because it manifestly did 
concern, to some extent, the " cure of souls " ; which, 
it may be noted, had been especially reserved to the 
Church courts by edict of William the Conqueror. 
And during the reign of Stephen, as the letters of 
John of Salisbury show, the right of presentation had 
been treated in Church courts. On the other hand, 
such rights were undoubtedly matters of patronage, 
and as such capable of transfer without reference to 
the Church. If there had been no other cause of 
dispute it is not likely that this would have been a bar 
to a compromise between king and archbishop. 

The second clause, which was uncontested by the 
Church, was aimed at preserving the royal rights and 
feudal services in regard to churches on the king's 

The third was the real point at issue between king 
and archbishop : it shall be reserved for discussion 
till the less important clauses have been mentioned. 

The fourth dealt with a subject already important 
and soon to be of still greater import the right of 
the king to prevent anyone leaving the kingdom 
without his licence. It specifically stated that no 
clergy-folk, from archbishop to beneficed priests, 
should go abroad without licence and giving security 
to procure no ill to the kingdom. The kings had 
certainly demanded this constantly if not invariably ; 
only so recently as Alexander Ill's Council at Tours 


Becket and Roger of York had received such licence. 
But the aim of the formal repetition of the order on 
this occasion undoubtedly was designed to prevent 
appeals to Rome without the king's assent. With 
it clause 8 ordered that no appeal should go beyond 
the archbishop's court to which the king might remit 
a suit for re-trial if the archbishop should "fail in 
showing justice " without the king's assent. It was 
at once seen what these clauses meant, and they more 
than any other caused the Pope to support Becket 
in rejection of the Constitutions. The meaning was 
expressed by Robert of Gloucester, in the time of 
Henry III, as being that the king should be " in the 
Pope's stead." It was that which the Papal Curia 
naturally regarded as fatal ; the other clauses against 
which it protested so loudly in England it yielded to 
without reluctance in France, when Philip Augustus 
demanded them. But to this it could not, without 
suicide, consent. 

The fifth clause entered upon a delicate branch 
of the Church's law. Excommunicates, it ordered, 
should not be required to give security for the future, 
before they were absolved, but only security to abide 
the judgment of the Church. It was an endeavour 
to free the excommunicated person from an absolute 
submission ; and the position became of very grave 
importance at the end of Becket's dispute with the 

The sixth declared that fixed legal witness was 
required in accusation of laymen in the Church courts, 
with a provision to enable the sheriff, in the case of 
a criminal of high rank, whom men might fear to 
accuse, to swear a jury to give evidence on their 


The seventh was a repetition of an order of William 
the Conqueror forbidding the excommunication of 
a tenant in chief without the king's knowledge, and 
it extended the rule to an interdict on the land. It 
had already been a matter of dispute in the case of 
Eynesford. It seemed practically to place it in the 
power of the king to decide whom the Church should 
admit to communion a claim that it was impossible 
a spiritual society with the slightest vestige of logic 
or self-respect could admit. 

The ninth was a complicated one as regards the 
trial of suits concerning ecclesiastical tenure. If there 
were dispute as to the tenure on which a particular 
piece of land were held it should be decided in the 
king's court. The ecclesiastical lawyers opposed this 
because it seemed to admit to the State courts a right 
of decision in regard to Church possessions, but their 
claim was surely hypercritical. The clause shows 
also the custom of Assize, substituted by Henry II 
for wager of battle, in suits concerning property. 

The tenth was contingent on the seventh. The 
eleventh, to which the Church made no objection, 
declared that clerks, from archbishops downwards, 
who held of the king in chief held according to the 
ordinary law of fiefs. 

The twelfth declared a custom which had certainly 
been observed under the Norman kings. Vacant 
bishoprics and benefices should be in the king's 
hands : Becket's chancellorship had shown many 
examples. When an election should be made it 
should be in the king's chapel, under the influence 
that is of the king. Though Fitz-Stephen claims 
for the chancellorship of Becket that elections were 
free then, and vacancies not prolonged, the case of 


his own election and the vacancy which preceded it 
is a very clear example of the custom which Henry's 
lawyers here set down. 

Other clauses dealt with the help of Church and lay 
courts to each other ; and the restriction of the right 
of sanctuary to persons, not goods ; with pleas about 
debts, of which the king claimed the jurisdiction, 
but the Church declared that as a moral matter they 
fell to her ; and with the security for feudal services, 
forbidding the ordination of villeins without their 
lord's leave. To this last the Pope agreed ; the 
Curia cared little for the service of poor men. But 
Gamier, the French biographer of Becket, indignantly 
protests against it as restricting the claim of God on 
the service of all. 

Points of considerable interest and importance, j ur i s di c tion 
constitutionally and historically, are involved in many over 
of the clauses. But none so decidedly touched the criminous 
vital question, as it seemed to medieval lawyers, 
as the question of jurisdiction over criminous clerks. 
It is well to see at first what Henry really claimed. 
He demanded that clerks, if they were accused of 
a crime at common law, should be tried in his courts ; 
if the crime was against Church law only, the Church 
might have jurisdiction. The clerk, in the first place, 
must appear in the lay court and plead to the charge 
there, though it might be heard, by clerical privilege, 
in the Church courts. When the case was being 
heard a royal officer should always be present ; and 
if the Church court found the man guilty " the 
Church ought no longer to protect him." 1 The 

1 I adopt the explanation, which is, indeed, as regards 
the meaning of the clause, convincing, of the late Professor 
Maitland, Roman Canon Law in the English Church, pp. 132 




Church, that is, might degrade him if she would 
though the clause makes no reference to this but 
the State should have the punishing in more material 
ways, and might, indeed, if she would, " betake 
herself to his limbs," in the phrase of another of 
Henry's legal enactments. Over the clause hot 
debate arose. The bishops on Henry's side urged 
Becket to consent ; he, it seems, consistently declared 
that to allow it would be to let a man be punished 
twice for the same offence, contrary to the elementary 
principles of justice. More than that he may have 
said : so much he certainly did say. 

When we disentangle the issues, which in the 
contemporary accounts, written by indignant parti- 
sans, are generally confused or prejudiced, or both, 
we may arrive at three questions. They are these : 
the claim of the Church to jurisdiction over its own 
officials or those under its special protection ; the 
question of double punishment for one offence ; and 
the nature of the punishments which ecclesiastical 
courts imposed, as distinct from those of lay courts. 

As regards the first point, there seems to be little 
doubt that Henry did not claim the right, for the lay 
courts, of trying clerks accused of crime. It may 
matter very little it probably did matter very little 
to Becket and those of his mind that this claim 
was not made when the claim to punish such crimi- 
nals, after they had been found guilty in their own 

sqq. But I do not think the facts warrant some of the 
inferences that he draws. Henry does " propose that a 
clerk should be punished by a temporal court " which Pro- 
fessor Maitland denies or at least he says nothing whatever 
about degradation : he merely says that if the clerk confess or 
be convicted the lay court shall punish him : he does not even 
imply that it shall wait for his degradation from orders. 


courts, was pressed. But that it was not made 
showed at least that Henry was satisfied with the way 
trials were conducted in the Church courts: though 
he would send his " minister " to be present, he 
would accept the trial as a fair one. On the other 
hand, Becket did explicitly assert, * and the literature 
of the time asserted again and again, that the king 
sought to " draw clerks to secular judgments." The 
concession on the king's part that the trial itself 
should be held in a Church court was a concession 
to legal theory : it did not affect practical fact. And 
the clergy have always been more practical, and less 
satisfied with theoretical concession, than their critics 
have asserted or their enemies desired. If a man 
were accused in the temporal court, and sentenced 
there to a layman's punishment, what did it matter, 
the Church might fairly say, where he was tried ? 
The accusation and the sentence were the work of the 
State, not of the Church. This was quite plainly to 
" draw clerks to secular judgments," whether it was 
to draw them to secular trial or not. 

But Henry's claim had a considerable force of law 
behind it. It was at least arguable it has indeed 
been argued with the masterly skill of one of the first 
of modern medievalists 2 that he was justified by 
Canon Law : that Gratian might be read in his 
favour, and so justified him already, and that Pope 
Innocent III unquestionably did, in the future, decide 
in the same way. Degradation by the Church should 
result in the delivery of the clerk as a layman for a 
lay court for a lay punishment. This view has 
the sanction of the great civil legist of the sixth 

1 e.g., Materials, v, 388. 

1 F. W. Maitland, op. cit., pp. 141 sqq. 


century. Justinian, in his 83rd Novel, orders that 
a clerk on being found guilty shall be degraded by 
the bishop and then sentenced by the secular 
power. J 

The point at issue here seems then to have been 
a practical, not a theoretical one. Henry's theory 
was undoubtedly contrary to that of Becket, and he 
had support in Civil Law for it : there is no reason 
to suppose that he ever actually admitted the right 
of the Church exclusively to judge its own officials. 
Becket undoubtedly did assert that the civil courts 
had no right to judge clerks. And when it came to 
the constitution drawn up at Clarendon he must have 
seen that this really made that claim on behalf of the 
State. The Church's claim, it should be remembered, 
was, rather vaguely, pressed to include not only all 
officials of the Church, from sextons to priests, from 
sub-deacons to monastic servants, and even, it 
seemed, those who were under, in old English phrase, 
the mund of the Church, widows and orphan children, 
and those over whom the protection of the Church 
was shed. Such a claim is found constantly in early 
laws, and seems to have been admitted. 

The question of double punishment is again a 
practical one. If a man was not in holy orders it 
does not, of course, enter into the dispute ; it would 
not, that is to say, concern the large class of which 

1 Corpus Juris Civilis, iii, ed. Schoell and Kroll, Vol. Ill, 
409-10. " Ut clerici apud proprios episcopos primum 
conveniantur et post haec apud civiles judices." This might 
have been quoted by Professor Maitland, if he had noticed it, 
as showing that Henry merely claimed what Justinian had 
claimed and what had not when claimed been resisted by the 
Church. [Since I finished this book I observe that Canon 
Robertson had also noted this novel as illustrating the king's 


we have last spoken. But for those who had received 
ordination from the Church the solemn and terrible 
act of degradation was a distinct, and, to all but 
desperate criminals, must have been a truly awful 
punishment. Chosen by the Lord to be His ministers 
upon earth, to declare, so far as poor humanity could, 
His will, and be the unworthy channels of His divine 
gifts, hideous indeed was the fall which could bring 
men to such acts of sin as should merit the deprivation 
of that commission so solemnly given. In the intense 
solemnity of medieval religion, dwelling far more 
than modern teaching, whether in Rome or England, 
on the tremendous issues of life, on death and judg- 
ment, on the quatuor novissima, the four last things, 
the sentence of degradation from the ministry might 
well seem the expression of the divine sentence, 
" Depart from Me, ye cursed." It would be difficult, 
indeed, to exaggerate the awfulness, to the medieval 
mind, of a degradation from holy orders. At the 
least, then, there can be no doubt that it was a 
punishment, a very distinct punishment. And when 
the king claimed to add to it some other sentence, 
given by a lay court, he was in plain fact giving 
a second punishment : richly deserved, it may have 
been, but a second punishment it undoubtedly was. 
A clergyman had been tried for crime and found 
guilty and degraded from his orders. No one doubted 
that the degradation was a punishment ; if it were 
not, why was it given ? To add to it the chopping 
off a hand or a foot was, obviously to all men, to 
give a second punishment. 

So much may be admitted. But it was argued, Ecclesias- 
by the eminent medievalist to whom we owe so much p^ sh . 
of the elucidation of the question of Henry II and the ments. 


criminous clerks, that l " the judgment of the eccle- 
siastical court must put an end to the whole case. 
It condemns a clerk to degradation. If that is 
correct it must also be a complete judgment. It 
ought not to be followed by another sentence." 
There is a little ambiguity here which it may be well 
to elucidate. Degradation was not " a complete 
judgment." With it the Church gave, as without 
it she gave, when the case required it, a sentence 
which affected the body, as well as that sentence 
which affected the status and the soul. A man 
degraded from holy orders might be punished, we 
have already seen, 2 with imprisonment for life, with 
scourging, with heavy fines, with branding : not only 
he might be, but such punishments actually had been 
given by Church courts in England within the last 
two years. And a letter of Alexander III to Gilbert 
Foliot 8 shows that such an amplification of the 
sentence of degradation was regarded not as a second 
punishment but as part of the punishment for the 
one offence. A clerk who has forged is to be deprived 
of every ecclesiastical office or benefice for ever, and 
banished the country : if he should return he is to be 
confined in a monastery as a prisoner for the rest of 
his life. 

But when we speak of the punishments imposed 
by the ecclesiastical courts, while we are careful to 
remember that they were not contrasted with the 
punishments of lay courts, as modern critics of Becket 
seem to imagine, by being what such critics would 
consider to be purely sentimental penalties as opposed 

1 Maitland, op. cit., p. 138. 

2 See above, pp. 74, 75. 

8 Epp. Gilb. Foliot., ii, 67. 


to severe physical ones, we must recall also the real 
distinction there was between them. The Church 
courts could not sentence to death or mutilation. 
The punishments of the lay courts in Henry IFs time 
were largely of that nature. Lay courts knew no 
such thing as penal imprisonment ; pecuniary penal- 
ties they inflicted for criminal offences for the most 
only as part or consequence of a physical punishment. 
The Church's penalties were no doubt the expression 
of a blind revolt against the cruelty of the age and 
of an attempt at amelioration rather than mere 
punishment. The State set before itself the ideas 
of vengeance and of example : the Church those of 
castigation for the benefit of the offender's soul and 
without closing the door to amendment upon earth, 

This then must be understood. There was a deep of Church 
cleavage between the claims of Church and State. and State - 
However far this may have been a theoretical matter 
it was most certainly a practical one. And Becket 
was not contending for the immunity of clerical 
offenders from any real punishment. If he had been, 
most certainly public opinion would not have been, 
to the extent that it was, on his side. One may not 
wonder that a wise thinker in seclusion, such as 
William of Newburgh by Bridlington in Yorkshire, 
should see that both Henry and Becket were striving 
after their fashion for the right, but be unable 
to decide with which the right really lay. 

Such was the position when the Constitutions were _. , 
brought before the Council at Clarendon. Becket bishop's 
protested that if clerks were to be brought before hesitation, 
secular courts Christ was again to be before Pilate. 1 

1 The parallel is interesting, and its exactness does not 
seem to have been observed by modern writers. As Pilate 


The freedom of canonical elections he could not 
abandon without the sanction of the Pope and the 
whole Church. He could not but remember that 
though the Charter of Henry I had sought to control 
it, the freedom had been allowed by the charter of 
Stephen. 1 

So the moment of decision came. Armed men 
beset the deliberating bishops, and great earls declared 
their dread lest bloody deeds should be done. " No 
new or unheard-of thing would it be," said the arch- 
bishop, " if it should be our lot to die for the Church's 
rights. The Company of the Saints have taught us 
by word and by example. But may the will of God 
be done." So it was that he and the bishops gave 
their promise. 

But a new demand followed. He must set his 
seal to the document. What did this involve ? For 
the Constitutions ended with the words, significant or 
mysterious, that there were many other customs and 
dignities of Holy Mother Church and the lord king 
and the barons which were not there set down but 
which are to be preserved to the Church and king 
and barons and inviolably observed for ever. He 
refused to seal : " Never," he cried, " while life is 
in this earthly vessel." He took away the document, 
for he knew not what might happen in regard to it. 
And so he went towards Winchester. 

As he went his people murmured. Their babble 
of iniquity, and the synagogue of Satan, of tempests, 
and of the flight of the shepherd reached his ears. 

said, so Henry, " Take ye ... and judge . . . according to 
your law " : the trial was ecclesiastical, the State claimed 
to punish. So at least Becket would naturally interpret the 

1 Canonice substituatur, is the phrase it uses. 


" What strength has he left who has betrayed his 
conscience and his honour ? " said the ready-tongued 
Welshman, Alexander Llewelyn, faithful in perils, 
cautious yet bold, who bore his cross and read aloud 
at meals, standing close to the archbishop's chair. 
The archbishop caught the words and asked bitterly 
of whom he spoke. Llewelyn did not hesitate to 
answer. " Of thee. Thou hast to-day betrayed 
conscience and good fame, left to posterity an example 
odious to God and contrary to righteousness, and 
hast stretched out thine hands to keep customs of 
impiety and with Satan's ministers hast united to the 
destruction of the Church's freedom." Becket in- His repent- 
stantly declared his repentance, groaning bitterly, a* 106 - 
and vowed that he would do no priestly act till he 
should be absolved. He had fallen, said his friends, 
like David and like Peter, but like them he should 
be lifted up. 

But for the present everything seemed against him. 
His oldest friend and best adviser had been separated 
from him and was forced into exile. Among the 
bishops he had no steadfast support where he had 
not open hostility. Within a month of the Council The Pope's 
of Clarendon the Pope granted to Roger of York the hesitations, 
office of legate. He wrote, on February 27th, to 
Becket, that Henry had urgently desired the confirm- 
ation of the Constitutions, that he would not give this 
but thought it wise to humour the king about the 
legation. A letter, quickly following this, has a 
curiously shuffling air. We did not grant the lega- 
tion, says the Pope, till the king's messengers had 
promised, and offered to swear, that the letters should 
not be given to Roger without your consent. We will 
never make your Church subject to anyone save 

7 (33 16) 


ourselves alone. 1 Cold comfort, when all seemed 
lost. So the spring passed. 

In April Alexander wrote again. He had heard 
that Becket had suspended himself from saying mass, 
and he deplored the scandal. He reminded the 
archbishop that there was great difference between 
evil things done voluntarily and done under com- 
pulsion. The intention it is that gives its mark to 
the act : for, as Gratian says, quoting Augustine, 
" Inasmuch as voluntary evil is sin, so if it be not 
voluntary it is not sin." But confession and penance 
should bring peace. And the Pope absolved him 
from his act of consent to the constitutions and 
commanded him not to cease from saying mass. 

During March it seems that Becket had an interview 
with the king at Woodstock, but nothing came of it. 
On Sunday, April 19th, they met again at Reading, 
where the archbishop, attended by ten of his suffra- 
gans, consecrated the church of the abbey founded 
by Henry I. A month later, on S. Alban's Day, 
John of Poitiers wrote to Becket 2 from Sens, where 
Alexander III was in exile, reporting the Pope's 

1 " Let not your heart fail you, my brother, because the 
legation has been granted : for the ambassadors gave us 
beforehand an assurance from the king, and offered them- 
selves to confirm it on oath, that the letters should not be 
delivered to the archbishop without your knowledge and 
consent. You cannot believe that it is our wish to humble 
you or your church, by subjecting it to any other than to the 
Roman pontiff. Wherefore we advise your prudence, as 
soon as ever the king shall be known to have delivered the 
letters, which we cannot easily believe he will do without 
your knowledge, to inform us at once of it by letter, that we 
may, without delay, declare you and your Church and city 
to be exempt from all legatine jurisdiction." [Materials, v, 

1 Materials, v, 110. 


desires. He evidently foresaw that flight, if it was 
not already contemplated, would soon be the arch- Becket 
bishop's only safe course : he rejoiced that no full contem- 
consent by signature and seal had been given to those fljgh 
detestable and profane constitutions. Matters were 
bad enough about the legations and the atrocious 
Clarembald. The Pope could not be depended upon, 
evidently. So he ended, " I further advise you that 
either in your own person, should you come into Gaul 
on account of your case, or by letter, if you should 
receive leave to depart you should make more 
intimate acquaintance with the abbat of Pontigny, 
though I and our common friend, Isaac, abbat of 
Stella, 1 will procure that that most holy house of 
Pontigny should have perpetual memory of you in 
their prayers ; you will also find that the same house 
is ready, if need be, to serve your temporal necessities ; 
for in labours and in holiness the said abbat is more 
powerful than all the abbats of the Cistercian order. 
And there I speak to safe ears I have chosen 
my place of exile when I can no longer support the 
tortures of our tormentor." 

And it was not long before the messengers of the 
tormentor began to harry the good bishop to some 
purpose. One was his own archdeacon, Richard of 
Ilchester. He hurried to the Pope at Sens. And 
Becket at home attempted to see Henry at Woodstock 
in vain. Then, going to his manor of Aldington, he 
made two attempts to escape, from Romney. The 
first time the wind drove him back ; the second the 
sailors put back, recognising him and dreading the 
king's wrath, and he returned to Canterbury. 
One of his servants was audaciously going to sleep 
1 That is of 1'Etoile, or the Blessed Virgin of Poitiers. 


in the archbishop's own chamber. After supper he 
began to think sadly of his master's evil case ; then 
when night was half over he wished to sleep and told 
a boy to go and shut the outer door. There on the 
doorstep sat the archbishop himself alone. The lad 
in terror fled in, thinking he had seen a vision, but the 
clerk would not believe him and went to see for him- 
self. There was the archbishop, who then entered 
the house, and, sending for some of the monks, told 
them of what had happened to him, and so after a 
brief supper went to bed. Next morning came some 
of the king's men to seize his goods, but when they 
saw him they retired in silent confusion. Henry, 
indeed, knew of his attempt at flight, and, in another 
meeting at Woodstock, half laughingly reproached 
him for it. He did not give him all the ceremony that 
was the due of the primate of all England. He asked 
him whether he did not think the kingdom big enough 
to hold them both. He had already prepared a 
further scourge for his back, in " the case of John the 



IT was clear to Henry that he would not secure the The case 

T 1 

supremacy of the civil power over all estates of the * J 
realm so long as Becket was archbishop to uphold Marshal, 
the privileges and separatism of the Church. It was 
dangerous to attack him directly ; and it might be 
much easier to secure his defeat by a side blow. 
Enemies were gathering round him, like bees, as the 
faithful Herbert says : a sting from one of them 
might be fatal. And so there appeared the case of 
John the Marshal. 

John Fitz-Gilbert, marshal to Henry IPs mother 
and brother of her chancellor, who held his office 
hereditarily, had been with the Queen Empress at 
Oxford in her famous adventure, and bore an evil 
record among the oppressors of England. 1 But he 
was a great baron and a man of proved strength and 
loyalty to the Angevins. He had brought an action 
in the archbishop's court concerning the manor 
of Pageham, Sussex, a property of the archbishopric. 
When the suit seemed to be going against him he 
made oath that he could not get justice in his lord's 
court, for the purpose of having the suit transferred 
to the royal court, the Curia Regis at Westminster. 
Becket was summoned thither for September 14th. 
He did not come ; but he sent four knights with 
letters from himself and the sheriff of Kent, declaring 
that John had departed from his court because he 

1 See Round, Geoffrey de Mandeville, p. 416. 



was failing in his evidence and had taken oath on 
a tropary (a book of the versicles sung before the 
introit at mass), " which he took from under his 
cloak, though the judges of the archbishop's court 
declared that he ought to have brought with him a 
book for the purpose of making oath nor have made 
oath on such a book." Pride and illness kept Becket 
from Westminster. Henry angrily dismissed his 
messengers and ordered another day for the suit. 
He accompanied this by the insult of sending a 
summons to the Council which was to be held at 
Northampton on Tuesday, October 6th, 1164, 
addressed not to the archbishop, though he should 
have had a writ " solemn and to him first of all," 
since by custom all the greater barons were summoned 
by special writ individually addressed, a writ which 
has the historical importance of being the foundation 
of the House of Lords as constituted by Henry 
II's grandson, but in the general writ sent out 
to the sheriff of Kent to summon all the lesser 
tenants-in-chief in his shire. 

October, When Becket arrived at Northampton with his 

1164. train, the faithful Herbert among them and the 

J he admiring remembrancer, William Fitz-Stephen, both 

Council of & . ' . . / 

North- oi whom left their records of this crisis of the strife, 

ampton. he found his lodgings taken by William de Courcy, 
another of the Angevin special servants. He waited, 
angry no doubt at heart at the two insults, till the 
king came. It was not till the day after that 
appointed that Henry was ready for the Council : 
he had hawked along every river and brook as he 
came and did not enter Northampton till nightfall. 
Next morning Becket said mass and his hours and 
went to the castle. There he was kept waiting in 


the ante-room till the king had heard mass. As 
Henry came into the room on his way from chapel 
the archbishop rose, made his reverence and stood 
ready with a calm countenance for the kiss of 
salutation, but Henry would not give it. 

In spite of the rebuff he boldly named his two 
causes of grievance. Henry said William de Courcy 
should give up the rooms, but that John the Marshal 
was in London on his business " at the quadrangular 
table which is called the Exchequer from its chequered 
squares," says Fitz-Stephen and should return next 
day, when the suit should be heard. 

So on Thursday, October 8th, the case came on, Th . 
many barons of England and Normandy, and all the October 
bishops, save Walter of Rochester and one or perhaps 8th. 
two others, being present. It was much more than 
the case of John the Marshal. It was now contempt 
of the Crown's Majesty ; for Becket, though sum- 
moned by the king to Westminster at John's suit, 
had neither come nor sent valid excuse : so the 
charge ran, and the king demanded the judgment 
of his barons on his archbishop. 

The barons were in a huge majority, whatever The 
might have been the bishops' vote, and English barons' 
barons were never sorry for an opportunity to abate sentenc e- 
the pride of an ecclesiastic : they declared Becket 
guilty and placed him ad misericordiam regis. To 
be at the king's mercy meant liability to an arbitrary 
fine, and the fine was fixed at three hundred pounds. 1 
The barons were eager to fix the sentence, but not 

1 I am inclined to think that Gamier is right, who gives 
this sum. Grim, Ralph of Dissay, and the Anonymous 
(? Roger of Pontigny) say 500, a huge sum. William of 
Canterbury says 50. 


to pronounce it : surely that must be the bishops' 
business. They were equally reluctant. At last the 
king made old Henry of Winchester, who had con- 
secrated the primate, deliver it. Becket did not 
receive it without protest. " If I were silent at such 
a sentence future ages would not be dumb. This is 
a new form of sentence : perhaps it belongs to the 
new rules made at Clarendon," he said ironically. 
" Never has it been heard of that an archbishop of 
Canterbury should be tried in the king's court for 
such a cause : the Church's dignity forbids it, and the 
dignity of his own person, for he is the king's spiritual 
father and of all in the realm." So Herbert expands 
the protest. Much more did he resent the action 
of his suffragans than even that of the barons ; it 
was indeed unheard of that an archbishop should be 
judged by his suffragans, he said. 

But he submitted, as the bishops advised, " because 
it was not lawful to gainsay the sentence and record 
of the court of the king of England." All the bishops 
were his sureties, save only Gilbert of London, who 
refused. But this was not the end. 

Henry now demanded three hundred pounds 
received by the archbishop from the wardenship of 
Eye and Berkhamsted. This in spite of the fact 
that the Pipe Roll of Michaelmas, 1163, the year 
before, marks him as discharged of all dues from the 
latter manor : as to the former a sum of 150 3s. 7d. 
had been paid in that year but without account. 
Whatever may have been the cause, or the justice of 
this demand, Becket, while declaring himself not 
liable, said now that he had spent far more on those 
castles and on the Tower of London. 1 Henry said 

1 See above, p. 32. 


it was not by his order, and the archbishop then 
agreed to give the money : he would not let money 
be a cause of dispute between them. It is a remark- 
able example of the way in which feeling was turning 
in his favour that William of Eynesford 1 became one 
of the sureties for his paying. 

But there was still more. On Friday, October 9th, October 
the king demanded 500 marks, which he said had 9th. 
been lent by him during the Toulouse war, and another 
500 which he said had been borrowed from the Jews 
on the royal security. And more, before the day 
was over. Already the archbishop was finding it 
difficult to get sureties for such large sums. Now he 
was required to give account of all the revenues of the 
archbishopric during the vacancy and of all other 
bishoprics and abbeys which had been vacant while 
he was chancellor. Becket threw himself at the 
king's feet, and the bishops with him; and Henry 
swore by God's eyes that he would have an account 
of every penny. From that moment the courtiers 
regarded the primate's doom as sealed ; the barons 
and knights no longer came to visit him, says Fitz- 
Stephen significantly, " for they understood the 
king's mind." 

On Saturday, October 10th, the bishops all came October 
to the primate's lodging, for he had demanded l ' 
their advice before he gave answer to the king. 
Henry of Winchester promised his help towards 
providing the money, and advised that an at- 
tempt should be made to pacify the king with a 
large sum. Becket offered two thousand marks. 
Henry refused them. Then the bishops advised 
that he should plead the quittance he received when 

1 See above, pp. 70, 71. 


he was made archbishop. Henry replied that he 
had not authorised it. 

The bishops met together again ; some reproached 
their primate, others gave half-hearted support : 
all evidently feared the lion's wrath. Hilary of 
Chichester expressed the candid wish that the 
archbishop should become plain Thomas again, and 
behind his back he quoted the text, " Every plant 
which my Heavenly Father hath not planted shall 
be rooted up," while he counselled resignation. One 
bold man said : " Be it far from him that he should 
think of his own safety and dishonour the Church that 
chose him." And so one after another gave contrary 
advice. Thus the Sunday passed in consultation so 
deep that, as Fitz-Stephen says, one could scarce 
breathe at meal time. 

On Monday morning the body failed the stout 
heart of the archbishop. The familiar signs of a 
nervous breakdown appeared : shivering and the 
acute pain of neuritis. When Henry heard of the 
primate's illness, he only sent to demand his answer, 
and the archbishop replied that if his strength allowed 
he would come to the king and do as duty bade. He 
was up on Tuesday morning early, and said mass at 
the altar of S. Stephen, using the collect for that 
saint and having the introit " Princes sat and spake 
against me," and wearing the pallium. He had been 
told that this mass would protect him, say some ; but 
if he had ever shown a sign of fear he showed none 
now, though men had told him that Henry was swear- 
ing to take his life or tear out his eyes and tongue. x 

1 Robertson, Life of Becket, p. 118, with an unconscious 
humour considers the report " greatly exaggerated," reminding 
one of " Mark Twain." 


He had already seen some of the bishops, charged 
them to reject the Constitutions and, on their 
obedience, not to join in judging him but if any evil 
should befall him to excommunicate those who caused 
it. Foliot instantly replied that he would appeal to 

Becket had meant to go to the king barefoot and in 
his mass vestments, but some of his clerks and the 
Templars dissuaded him. Some (but not those who 
might best have known) say that he carried with him 
the Host concealed in his raiment. He rode into the 
hall, got off his horse, and took his primatial cross 
from the Welshman's hand. There Gilbert Foliot 
met him. Hugh of Nunant, archdeacon of Lisieux, 
who was with him, said : " Lord bishop of London, 
will you suffer him to carry his own cross ? " "He 
always was a fool, and he always will be, my good 
man," said the bishop. And so the archbishop, 
bearing his cross, went into the council chamber The scene 
and took his seat, and the bishop of London sat near council 
him, and told him that it needed only now for the chamber, 
king to take his sword and they would be a match. 
" Nay," answered Becket, " for the cross is the sign 
of peace ; and would I might always carry mine." 

Then came Roger of York, who had loitered that 
he might not seem to be advising the king. He 
had his cross borne before him, in spite of Canterbury 
and Rome, and angrily bade Becket lay his aside. 
So they were summoned to the king, who, when he 
heard of how the archbishop of Canterbury had 
come, had withdrawn himself into an inner room : 
bishops and barons went to him, and Becket with 
his own clerks was left alone in the great hall. Silently 
they sat awhile. Then Herbert told him he might 


excommunicate his foes, for already there were cries 
that Henry had proclaimed him traitor, and men 
passing through the hall uttered loud threats. William 
Fitz-Stephen spoke loud that he might hear and 
gently counselled meekness and a suffering for 
righteousness, and quoted Gratian and S. Gregory. 
And around them the tears flowed from men's eyes. 
Becket sat in silent thought, and then Fitz-Stephen 
lifted up his finger and pointed to the Sacred Figure 
on the Cross. And so he prayed and took comfort. 
Years after, says Fitz-Stephen, the archbishop 
reminded him of that moment. 

At last came the king's command : to withdraw all 
appeals to Rome and all commands to the bishops, 
and to stand to the judgment of the king's court as 
to the accounts of the chancellorship. Becket heard, 
still seated, and then clearly and boldly he made his 
refusal, halting not in one word, says Fitz-Stephen. 
He had not been summoned for any cause but that 
of the marshal : to no other would he answer. He 
had been given free to the Church of Canterbury. 
Yet it were not lawful to produce witness against the 
king, nor would he do it. He had given himself to 
the Church's work and God had brought his work 
to nought. No more sureties could he bring. And 
still he appealed against those bishops who had judged 
him. He appealed for himself and the Church of 
Canterbury, to God and the Pope. 

When they heard this, some of the barons, calling 
out that William the Conqueror knew how to tame 
clerks, went to the king, and with them went the 
bishops. Long the timid prelates argued with 
Henry and then came back, some weeping, to declare 
that they appealed against their primate, and, having 


by his advice sworn to the Constitutions, they would 
observe them. The bitter enemies, York, London 
and Chichester, declared that they charged him with 
perjury in their appeal to Rome. 

Still Thomas made answer. He would meet the 
appeal. No one had sworn at Clarendon save saving 
the Church's honour and law. The Pope had rather 
condemned than approved the Constitutions. And 
if the flesh failed at Clarendon, yet was no one bound 
to do what was unlawful. 

The bishops went back to the king : then was the The arch- 
barons' turn. What their judgment was no one bishop 
heard, for when Robert Beaumont, earl of Leicester, JJ fl j^2 
the aged justiciar, came to deliver it, Becket at last without 
rose, cross in hand, and forbade him to speak. No 
judgment would he hear, for there had been no trial. 
"Now will I depart, for the hour is past," said he, 
and bearing his cross he walked to the closed door, 
which someone silently unfastened for him. Voices 
called after him " traitor " and " perjurer." As he 
passed through the crowded hall he stumbled over 
a bundle of faggots, and he turned to Hamelin, the 
king's bastard brother, and said, "Were I a knight, 
my own hands should prove thee false." Some say he 
called him " bastard," some that he taunted Ranulf 
de Broc with the hanging of one of his kindred. But 
Herbert of Bosham, who says he alone was with his 
master when they left the inner room till they came 
to the outer hall, says only that he turned a stern 
face to those who taunted him, and said that were it 
not for his priesthood he would defend himself in arms. 

The outer gate was locked, but one of his squires 
found the key, and he rode forth alone for Herbert 
could not at first find his horse. A great crowd 



surrounded him and begged his blessing ; scarce 
could he control his horse and carry his cross. When 
they reached S. Andrew's monastery, he brought the 
crowd into the refectory and supped with them. 
The passage read while they ate named a bishop 
who in persecution had quoted " When they persecute 
you in one city flee to another," and his eye caught 
the faithful Herbert's. It seemed a divine intimation. 
Already many of his own household had fled. 

He sent a last message to Henry demanding a 
safe conduct to Canterbury. He was answered that 
he must wait till the morrow. Then he had his bed 
laid in the church, and before cock-crow, when the 
monks (says Gamier, in whose mind lingered pictur- 
esque and vivid details which men told him) sang 
matins softly for fear they should wake him, he had 
fled with one squire and two canons of Sempringham, 
the one English order, whose founder was his faithful 
and admiring friend. Through a storm of pitiless 
rain he rode away towards Lincoln ; there he rested 
in the house of a fuller. Then on he went to the 
Sempringham house at Haverholme, and down the 
Witham by boat. At first he wore monastic garb, 
then the dress of a lay brother ; sometimes he was 
called Brother Derman, sometimes Brother Christian. l 

From Haverholme he travelled by night into Kent, 
stopping at another Gilbertine house, Chicksand in 
Bedfordshire, So he came at last to Eastry, near 
Sandwich, one of his own manors, where he dwelt in 
a little chamber looking on the church, hearing mass 
without any man knowing his presence. Thence on 
All Soul's Day, before daybreak, he took an open 

1 This seems the best way to reconcile the different 


boat and with two priests put out from Sandwich. 
These good men knew how to row, no unusual accom- 
plishment for clerks, but there were others in the boat 
who gave rather hindrance than any comfort or help. x 
That night they landed at Oye, in the county of 

1 John of Salisbury, Materials, ii, 313 "in fragili cymbula 
a duobus sacerdotibus trajectus est in Flandriam, paucis aliis 
navigium potius impedientibus quam aliquam solatii vel 
auxilii ferentibus opem." 



Henry's ON the very day when the archbishop crossed the 
tcTthe 87 channel there went also an embassy from Henry : 
Pope. Roger of York, Gilbert of London, Hilary of Chich- 

ester, Bartholomew of Exeter, and the newly conse- 
crated Roger of Worcester. With them were two 
priests, Richard of Ilchester and John of Oxford, the 
primate's bitter foes, the earl of Arundel and other 
laymen. They bore Henry's complaint to the Pope. 
Already he had sent a letter to Louis VII denouncing 
the wicked and perjured traitor, his archbishop : now 
he adjured him to send back the outlaw to England. 
When Becket landed, his troubles were not over. 
Flanders was not safe : there was an old enemy there : 1 
he must keep away from frequented towns. And he 
who when last he had crossed the channel had so fine 
a train of knights and splendid horses must now go 
afoot and almost alone. Wearied, and encumbered 
by his monastic garb, he slipped and stumbled on the 
sand, and he tore his hands on the rocks. At last 
they found a boy whom they made bring a steed : 
it proved but a sorry ass, with a straw rope for bridle. 
On this poor beast they threw a cloak and sate their 
archbishop thereon. So he rode for two miles, till 
lands 6 in he found it " more bearable and more respectable " 
Flanders. to walk. So they came to a village, where an old 
woman, struck half with pity,Jhalf with respect, for a 
form so noble and so sad, ran into her house to get 

1 See above, pp. 43, 44. 



him a stick to walk with and all she could find was 
a spit ; it was dirty and covered with the grease of 
fish. For even this he gave gentle thanks. 

Even now he could not repress the tastes of his 
youth : he gave a keen glance of pleasure as he saw a 
knight ride by with hawk on wrist. Someone, as he 
passed, with his three companions said, " Surely that 
is the archbishop of Canterbury, or he is very like him." 
Brother Scailman, the Gilbertine, heard it and said, 
" You never saw the archbishop travel like this." 
In an inn the landlord noticed him for his dignified 
manners and his long white hands, and his wife paid 
special reverence to " Brother Christian." So they 
made their way to the Cistercian abbey of Clairmarais, 
near S. Omer, where they arrived about November 
4th. After two days' delay they passed through 
S. Omer the very day that the king's envoys did 
the same and went to the great house of S. Bertin. 
With them now were Herbert of Bosham and some 
clerks and servants who had brought from England 
money and silver plate. 

While they were at Clairmarais Becket had seen 
Richard de Lucy, joint justiciar, an old friend, who 
strongly begged him to return to England, adding 
threats to his requests, and at last telling him he 
must no longer rely on him. " You are my man," 
said Becket, " and must not speak to me thus." " I 
give you back my homage," said Lucy, and the 
archbishop answered, " I never lent it you." 

To prepare the Pope for his coming Becket now 
wrote to tell of his flight and his hopes. 1 

" In your presence, holy father, is my refuge ; November, 
that you, who have redeemed the Church's liberties Letter to 

1 Materials, v, 138 sqq. Nov. 1164. the Pope. 

8 (3216) 


at your own peril, may give ear to me who have 
followed your example, and suffered equally for the 
same. The cause of the Church would have sunk 
before the rapacity of princes if I had not faced the 
coming evil. The more I loved the king, the more 
I opposed his injustice, until his brow fell lowering 
upon me. He heaped calumny after calumny on 
my head, and I chose to be driven out rather than 
to subscribe. I was called before the king's tribunal 
like a layman, and was deserted in the quarter where 
I had looked for support. My brethren, the bishops, 
sided with the court, and were ready to pronounce 
judgment against me. Thus, almost crushed by the 
multitude of my foes, I have fled to your presence, 
which is the last refuge of the distressed. Under 
your protection will I prove that I was not amenable 
to that tribunal, nor to their judgment. Your 
privileges, holy father, are at stake : by this perni- 
cious precedent the spiritual power would yield to the 
temporal. Thus I resisted, for fear that to yield 
would be a confession of weakness, and bring on me 
more extensive aggression. But, one may say that 
those things which are Caesar's should be rendered to 
Caesar. Be it so ; the king must, indeed, be obeyed 
in many things, but not so that he shall cease to be 
a king : that would make him no longer Caesar but 
a tyrant, and those who resisted him would contend 
for themselves and not for me. The last judgment 
is admitted to be His Who can kill both body and soul : 
is not then the spiritual judgment final on earth ? 
Why have I been attacked for appealing to him, who 
cannot, must not judge falsely ? They have assailed 
me unjustly, or else they doubt your impartiality. 
I wonder not that laymen should thus attack the 


Church, but I wonder much more that bishops should 
have led them on. Could I anticipate the enmity 
of those for whom I encountered such opposition ? 
If they had been willing, I should have gained the 
victory. But the head faints when it is abandoned 
by the other members. If they had been wise they 
would have seen that in attacking me they were 
attacking their own privileges, and serving princes 
to their own servitude. They left spiritual things for 
temporal, and so have been stripped of both. They 
judged me, their father, though I protested and 
appealed to your holy presence. If they had con- 
spired in the same way with the king against the 
whole Church, what would your holiness then have 
said ? They plead that they were fulfilling their 
duty to the king. I reply that their obligation to 
him is of a temporal nature, to me they are bound in 
spirituals. What obligations can be stronger than 
that which binds them to themselves, and the spiritual 
concerns of their souls ? They say that this is not 
a favourable moment for provoking the king to 
anger. Alas ! this refined sophistry leads to their 
perpetual servitude ! they are even accelerating 
that catastrophe by lending the king's arrogance 
wings to fly ! Had they paused, he would have 
paused also. But further, when is constancy re- 
quired, except under persecution. Are not friends 
then proved ? If they always yield how can they 
ever succeed ? They must one time or other make 
a stand. 

" Look down then, with condescension, holy father, 
on my exiled and persecuted condition : remember 
that I was once in a place of pride, from which I have 
been driven by injustice and in your cause. Put 


forth your severity, and coerce those who have stirred 
up this persecution, but lay it not at the king's door ; 
he is the instrument rather than the author of these 

The king's Becket was ready to follow up his letter by a per- 
sonal appeal. But meanwhile the king's envoys had 
been beforehand with him and had had very poor 
welcome. Louis VII interrupted one of them, in the 
most clericalist spirit, when he spoke of " the late 
archbishop." " Late ! who deposed him ? I am myself 
a king as well as the king of the English, and I have 
no power to depose the meanest clerk in my realm." 
When the earl of Arundel was mean enough to remind 
him of the gallant exploits of the exile in the war of 
Toulouse, and hint at the danger in which he himself 
had stood, Louis, who must well have known the part 
Becket had played, replied in the spirit of a true and 
chivalrous knight that the chancellor had but served 
his master loyally, who had requited him ill indeed. 
With the Pope they had no better fortune. Before 
they were received Herbert of Bosham had also 
arrived at Sens : he had followed them to Compiegne 
on his master's behalf and had a very different 
reception. Louis had given them cordial sympathy. 
Henry, he said, should have remembered the verse, 
"Be ye angry and sin not." Herbert's companion 
spoke up with no fear of the king : " My lord, maybe 
he would have remembered that versicle if he had 
heard it as often as we do in the canonical hours." 
Louis promised all help ; if Henry made much of his 
dignitates (prerogatives) the king of the Franks 
remembered that among those that belonged anciently 
to his house was the defence and protection of exiles, 
especially those who suffered for the Church. 


At Sens the Pope saw Herbert before he saw the The p 
king's men, and he received the recital of the arch- at Sens, 
bishop's suffering with tears. " While still living he 
can claim the martyr's privilege," he said. A more 
formal reception, with cardinals and curia, was given 
to the king's envoys. Gilbert Foliot spoke bitterly : 
the occasion of dispute was trivial : Becket had 
pushed matters to an extreme, and he had entangled 
himself and his brethren. The wicked fleeth when 
no man pursueth. " Spare," interjected Alexander. 
" I will spare him," said the bishop. " Nay, it is 
yourself that I would have you spare ; plainly you 
hate and persecute an innocent man." And Foliot 
was silent from confusion. Hilary of Chichester, the 
eloquent one, fared no better, for he made a bad slip 
in his Latin, unfortunately [saying " Oportuebat," 
whereat the Italians, " hearing him run from port to 
Port, laughed aloud, and one said, " You have got 
into port ill." Roger of York spoke with more skill. 
He reminded the Pope that he had known Becket 
from his youth, and assured him that his pride could 
only be abated by a papal rebuke. Alexander talked 
and temporised : then he said he would send two 
legates, but they should not have final power : the 
right of hearing appeals was his own glory which he 
would not give to another. 

Fitz-Stephen, who was not present, tells that a Henry's 
bribe of Peter's pence " from every house whence harsh 
smoke arises " in England was offered in vain. So measures - 
the embassy returned, and reported their ill-success 
to Henry at Marlborough on Christmas Eve. The 
king waited for the festival, and next day did he 
remember Becket's mass of S. Stephen ? he seized 
all the property of the archbishopric, giving it in 


charge to Ranulf de Broc, Becket's bitter foe, and the 
property of all his clerks, and he ordered all his 
kindred to depart the realm instantly, old and young, 
and babes in arms. By writs to the sheriffs and 
bishops he ordered that anyone who appealed to 
Rome should be imprisoned, and forbade that any 
of the archbishop's clerks should receive any benefice 
or money. The archbishop of York required all his 
clergy to take oath that they would not obey the 
Pope's commands in the matter of Becket. 

The archbishop himself had only the comfort of 
the Pope's warm sympathy. He had begun the 
weary years of exile in which he wandered so far over 
the fair fields of France, where one may follow him 
and see many a memorial to-day. Some places stand 
out in the records, and still preserve something of a 
memory, of the English archbishop. 

To follow all his wanderings would perhaps be 
tedious. At any rate, there is little memory of him 
that can be recalled at S. Omer or at Montmirail, or 
Freteval, the scenes of crisis as the exile drew to an 
end. The greater interests belong to greater places. 
At Soissons, a town so famous in the time of Caesar 
and in the time of Chlodowech, there is little remain- 
ing that the eyes of Becket may have looked upon. 
The abbey of S. Jean des Vignes, once fortified and 
castellated like the palace of a great seigneur, has long 
ago been destroyed ; the towers and gateway that 
remain were built a century or so after the arch- 
bishop's exile. At Soissons Louis VII welcomed him 
with pious zest. Then fortified by the support of 
one of Alexander' s strong supporters, he went on 
to see the Pope. 

At Sens it is not in the abbey of S. Colombe (which, 


I think, has left us no memorials of its dignity) that 
his memory is to be sought, but in the stately and 
beautiful Cathedral and in the clean, fresh streets, 
where here and there an ancient archway or sculp- 
tured portal reminds us that the municipal life goes 
back to a far past. In the great Cathedral of S. 
Etienne abides the remembrance of the Saint who 
once worshipped there. Nave and aisles have been 
trodden by his steps ; they were completed while he 
was still an exile, in 1168, and William of Sens, the 
architect who designed them, went on to introduce 
into England that " Pointed " style of exquisite 
grace and purity, so conspicuous in the building that 
he had designed, in the great memorial that arose in 
England to the memory of the Saint who had watched 
the work in the fragrant city on the banks of the 
Yonne. The choir of Canterbury Cathedral itself, 
the great memorial to the martyr, and the special 
ending of that glory of what we call Early English 
architecture which is known as " Becket's crown," 
were, it may be, all designed, as the beginning of them 
was certainly made, by that William of Sens whom 
the archbishop had seen at work in his own city. 
The fire that destroyed the ancient choir at Canter- 
bury in 1174 proved a blessing in disguise. It arose 
again more beautiful, in a new style of severe restraint 
which was to influence English art for centuries, from 
the hand of the French architect who came from the 
city that had sheltered the greatest of the medieval 
primates, to whom it became, in some sort, a national 

So the memories of Becket pass from Sens to Stone 
Canterbury. But at Sens they stiU abide. At the Kgu and 
north side of the north choir-aisle of the Cathedral Vestments - 


is a little chapel that is called by his name, and though 
all the decorations there are glaringly modern, the 
ancient mensa (which has been moved from the south 
side of the same aisle, at the back of the choir) is said 
though the tradition is disputed to be one at which 
he often said mass. Hard by, on the wall, is a stone 
figure, in vestments, with the pallium, which has 
been removed from a house in the city where he is 
said to have dwelt. x It is rough, and it has suffered 
injury, but it must be very nearly contemporary. 
It is naturally concluded to be an effigy of Becket. 
Many think, and I among them, that it has good claim 
to be the best and most authentic portrait that 
remains. And there is in the Treasury, almost the 
most wonderful of all the famous French collections of 
ecclesiastical art, a chasuble, once dark red and now 
faded almost into black, with alb, maniple, and stole, 
which an invincible tradition says that he wore, and 
a mitre of later workmanship that later tales 
wished to associate with his name. Sens is a beautiful 
town, fresh and bright, as with something of the 
river's fresh brightness which girdles the ancient city 
of S. Savinien. It bears its antiquity the fine 
Roman walls, the remains of past glories, ecclesias- 
tical and civil with an air of perpetual youth. It 
is a town where banished pope and exiled primate 
might well forget some of the sorrows of their lot. 
And hard by stands the exquisite Auxerre. 

Becket would think, when he came before Alex- 
ander, of how he had seen the fair district of the 
Yonne in the days when he was an English scholar 
at the French schools. Since then he had been the 
greatest minister, and the greatest friend, of the 

1 See frontispiece. 


strongest European sovereign. Then he had been 
the primate of his realm, and when he had last seen 
Alexander he had come to him almost as an equal in 
dignity, and as his superior in worldly state, like 
Anselm, in the words of another pontiff, the " pope 
of another world." Now he came as an exile to an 
exile ; and, weary of wandering, says Gamier, went 
to the hostelry. A blight had fallen on him which 
even his faithful clerks felt : not one of them would 
plead his cause before the Pope. He must do it 
himself, and perhaps he had not even so Gamier 
seems to mean any silver or gold, any rich plate or 
jewel, such as the custom is to give the Pope when 
men go to see him. Only he had the manuscript 
of those Constitutions which had brought him to 
this pass. 

They were read out, and Becket expounded. There Al 

j ',,.., \ ,, ~ ,. . Alexander 

was an advocatus diaboh, it seems, in the Cardinal condemns 

William of Pavia, who tried to trip him up, but he was the Consti- 
not to be confused, and so in his " fair Latin " he taiions ' 
proved the case as it seemed to him, taking quite 
half a day in his speech. Alexander listened, pon- 
dered, and then in full consistory condemned. Only 
six out of the sixteen articles could be tolerated : 
the second, sixth, eleventh, thirteenth, fourteenth and 
sixteenth (Alexander listened not to the complaint of 
the poor, who would serve Christ in His Church) are 
marked in the ancient copy " toleravit." The rest 
he utterly condemned. 

Meanwhile John of Poitiers had found a refuge Becket 
for his friend in Burgundy. Sens he was to return | oes ti to 
to, driven forth from that new place of rest, and 
turning back to the city where the fair cathedral 
church was rising towards heaven. In that valley 


he could be at peace he knew. Those towns on the 
Yonne have indeed an age-long charm of quietude. 
But for the time he turned aside. 

Far different was the refuge where Becket rested 
in the two years that followed the first sojourn at 
Sens, the great Cistercian abbey of Pontigny. Thither 
he went on November 30th, 1164. The year ended 
in silence and retirement and something of peace, in 
the shelter of the noble abbey. 

The Abbey To-day the monastic buildings have been swept 
of Pontigny away, and there stands only the great church, said 
to-day. t o fog t^ on iy Cistercian church remaining in com- 
pleteness. It looks, as you draw near, almost as if 
it were some huge barn like that grand one at Great 
Coxwell in Berkshire so plain is it and unadorned. 
It has no towers, nothing to break the long line of 
regular roof, no ornaments or decorations at all ; 
only lancet windows in aisles and clerestory, a rose 
window at the transepts, flying buttresses, ugly like 
wooden props, at the east. It is severe in its lowly 
simplicity, and it is all of one age and one design. 1 
In the freshness of its restoration, with white walls 
and columns unchipped and smooth, it looks in the 
twentieth century as it must have looked when 
Becket entered its walls to worship for the first time. 
Thibault of Champagne had begun it in 1150, and it 
was finished, it would seem, while the English arch- 
bishop was a guest of the house. Long, high, severe, 
the church within is a fit expression of the Cistercian 
protest for strict simplicity of worship. S. Bernard 
might have built it for himself to worship in. The 
graceful chevet with seven small chapels, and the 

1 The choir is a little later, but does not differ very greatly 
from the nave. 


oppressive shrine over the eighteenth-century altar 
holding the body, brown and grisly, in its modern 
episcopal vestments, of S. Edmund, the successor, 
seventy years later, of S. Thomas, who died in exile 
where S. Thomas had sojourned eighty years before, 
are of later days. The note of severity was, in the 
time of Becket, toned only by the strange, appealing 
pathos of the narrow aisles, where the pointed arches 
rise sharply from the high, undecorated columns, a 
long vista of religious light that is not dim. The 
S. Thomas chapel has gone, the altar at which the 
exile ministered is forgotten ; only the solemn peace 
of the great village church such now it is treasures 
the memory of his name. There he rested, and the 
biographers tell us how kindly he took to the monastic 
life. He put on the Cistercian dress. The Pope 
sent him a rough woollen habit which he had himself 
blessed, and the abbat put it on him privately, so he 
became affiliated to the Cistercians. 

" He taketh up," says the Saga, 1 compressing the His life 
records of those who were with him, " a new manner there, 
of life as it were, reading books and praying in calm 
quietude, and fervid striving after heavenly things. 
Therewithal he exerciseth such temperance as to 
take no food but according to the rule of Grey-Friars, 
that being dry and without savour. But this hard 
way of living his nature may no wise endure, for he 
had alway fed sumptuously on goodly fare, and 
therefore he falleth into such hard sickness, that he 
taketh to his bed. Now when his familiar friends 
know from himself what causeth his illness, they pray 
and counsel him, in the name of God, to nourish his 
body with such food as may be wholesome for his life. 

1 Vol. I. p. 316. 


This counsel he taketh in a good part, though un- 
willing, and improveth into a fully restored health 
after a few days. But how high his virtues were, and 
acceptable to God Almighty, is now revealed through 
a heavenly vision, which he had while staying at 

His vision. " O n a certain day, when the blessed Thomas has 
sung mass, as he falleth down before the altar to pray 
weeping and sighing, thinking that he was left alone 
in the church, there cometh over him a voice saying : 

" ' O Thomas, O Thomas, my Church shall be 
glorified in thy blood ! ' 

" The archbishop answereth : 

" ' Who art thou, Lord ? ' 

" The voice speaketh : 

" ' I am Jesus Christ, thy brother.' 

" The blessed Thomas says : 

" ' May the bliss befall me, O my Lord, that thy 
Church be glorified in my blood ! ' 

" The Son of God speaketh still : 

" ' Verily my Church shall be glorified in thy blood ; 
but when she is glorified through thee, thou shalt be 
honoured by me.' 

" From this vision the holy Thomas was filled with 
such exceeding joy, that in no words may it be 
interpreted ; and such fervour of godly love shot 
forthwith through his soul, that he yearned above all 
things else for the privilege of giving his life for the 
name of God." 

The Saga says that the abbat of Pontigny, who 
was in the chapel at the time, knew of the vision, 
but was adjured by the archbishop to keep silence 
about it. 

Such visions came naturally to the mind of one who 


spent much time in prayer, and much, it may well be, 
in brooding on his misfortunes. He spent much time 
in study of Holy Writ and in meditation. But still 
his old tastes remained, and he gratified two of them 
at least. All over Gaul he sent his agents to hunt 
up rare and famous books to have them copied, or 
bought, for Canterbury : he was still a virtuoso, 
though now it was books he bought, not horses and 
arms and rich stuffs. But also he made his clerks 
collect out of all these books, and any others he could 
hear of, all records of privileges granted at any time 
to his cathedral church. In the neighbourhood of 
Auxerre his thoughts turned back naturally to the 
law he had studied there. John of Salisbury, J most 
faithful of friends, writing in May, 1165, besought 
him to give his whole mind to God : " Profitable 
indeed are laws and canons, but now there is not 
need of them." He can quote the ^Eneid to the 
scholar prelate. 

" Non hoc ista sibi tempus spectacula poscit," 
he says, for laws and canons excite curiosity more 
than devotion. Rather should the priest stand 
between the porch and the altar, crying " Spare, 
spare." Not philosophy, but Psalms and the Morals 
of S. Gregory, would be his best reading. 

It was honest advice, and John gave it with some 
little timidity. And indeed Becket's thoughts could 
not be weaned from the consideration of his wrongs. 
The Pope, in June, gave him a formal document 
annulling inasmuch as to him, he said, it belonged 
to correct things evil and prevent their becoming a 
precedent the sentence of Northampton presump- 
tuously passed by the bishops and barons of England 

1 Materials, v, 163. 



annulling it, be it understood, because of its obvious 
injustice. And he adjured the archbishop to forbear 
any spiritual censures against the king or kingdom 
till Easter, 1166. An agent of Becket's described 
him as very cautious. He was soon to be stirred 
from his hesitation. 

The Schism was still unhealed, and the Emperor 
The Schism Frederick was eagerly seeking for new supporters 
Papacy. f r his anti-pope, Guy of Crema, called Paschal III. 
In a Council at Wiirzburg on Whit-Sunday, 1 165, he 
confirmed the election and many bishops took oaths 
to the Pope. Reginald, archbishop-elect of Koln, 
declared that he had won over the English bishops, 
and John of Oxford who at this time had been made 
dean of Salisbury, and Richard of Ilchester, arch- 
deacon of Poitiers, took oaths to the anti-pope, it 
was said on behalf of the king and barons. This 
was very soon felt to be an error. Henry ordered 
Rotrou of Beaumont, archbishop of Rouen, to write 
that no such oath had been made for him, and John 
of Oxford was told to go and assure Alexander that 
he had not made it. The Holy Roman Emperor, in 
a letter "to all people, over whom our imperial 
clemency rules," had declared that he had. So John 
of Oxford got the name of perjurer (jurator) from 
Becket's party for the rest of his life. It was not 
so easy to change popes as Henry may have thought. 
Alexander was not to be led at this moment by his 
fears. Indeed, he wrote when he may just have 
heard of the doings at Wiirzburg to Gilbert Foliot 
in no uncertain language. 1 

Thus runs his letter 
Letter to " ft w jv] no t have escaped your memory, that our 

June, 1165. l Materials, v, 175, 


beloved son in Christ, Henry, the illustrious king of 
England, requested of us formerly, with much earnest- 
ness, to permit your translation from the see of 
Hereford, which you then occupied, to that of 
London. And, moreover, that to secure our assent 
he dwelt on the advantages likely to result from your 
promotion, alleging that London was the seat of the 
government, and that he wished to have you near his 
person for the benefit of your counsels, as well in 
temporal matters as in those that concern his soul. 
We, therefore, looking to the interest of the king 
and nation, and above all, of God's holy Church, 
consented to your promotion. A time has now 
arrived when we expect to reap the benefits we then 
proposed to ourselves, and to experience the reality 
of the hopes which were then held out to us. 

" Doubtless you are not ignorant that the aforesaid 
king has of late fallen off much from his devotion to 
the holy Church ; he has forbidden appeals, has 
entered into communication with schismatics and 
persons excommunicated, and exiled from his domi- 
nions our venerable brother the archbishop of 
Canterbury, by which acts he has become even a 
persecutor of the Church. Wherefore we command 
you, in conjunction with the bishop of Hereford, 
to warn the king that he desist without delay from 
these evil practices and make satisfaction for what he 
has done amiss ; admonish him to love -his God with 
singleness of heart ; to respect as he was wont his holy 
mother the Roman Church ; to withdraw his prohi- 
bition on all visits and appeals to it ; to recall and 
reinstate our brother aforesaid, the archbishop, in 
his diocese ; to stand fast in his reverence towards 
the blessed S. Peter and ourself ; to attend on works 


of piety and religion ; no longer to oppress, as he is 
said to do, or permit others to oppress, the churches 
and clergy of his kingdom or his other territories ; but 
to love, maintain, and by his royal protection support 
them ; that by these means he may obtain from Him 
by whom kings reign, both a continuance of his 
temporal kingdom here, and the gift of an eternal 
one hereafter. 

" Furthermore, although we ourself, in considera- 
tion of his former devotion and his service shown to 
us in time of need, still love him with abundant 
charity, as a noble prince and renowned king, and 
still labour for the advancement of his glory (though 
he himself seems to think otherwise of us) with a 
fervent zeal ; nevertheless, it is fit you should recall 
to his mind that unless he repents of his evil deeds, 
and that speedily, God will most surely visit him with 
heavy vengeance, and the time must at last come 
when our patience can no longer endure. 

" These things we desire to lay before him, not for 
our own good but for his safety, in return for those 
many and signal services which he has before now 
rendered to us as a most Christian king. His great- 
ness is our delight ; his welfare, and that of his 
kingdom, is the object of our most earnest wish." 

The reply was that the king had no desire to do 
more than observe the ancient customs of his land : 
he did not really intend to stop appeals, or if such a 
course was contrary to the Church's interests he 
would submit it to the judgment of a council of his 
realm. It would be much wiser to treat him mildly. 
And at the same moment John of Poitiers, thinking 
that Becket's pride was reviving, was bidding him 
restrain his ostentation. 


" It will be necessary for your lordship, as far as Letter from 
one can judge from the present aspect of your affairs, J ^ 1 ? of 
to husband your resources in every possible way; M ay 1165. 
to let your enemies see that you are prepared for any 
sufferings to which your exile may reduce you. For 
this reason I have often warned your discretion, and 
must still anxiously press you to get rid of your 
superfluous incumbrances, and to consider the bad- 
ness of the times, which promises you neither a 
speedy return nor a safe one. Your wisdom ought to 
know, that no one will think the less of you, if, in 
conformity to your circumstances, and in condescen- 
sion to the religious house which entertains you, you 
content yourself with a moderate establishment of 
horses and men such as your necessities require." 1 

The advice was hardly needed. Already the arch- 
bishop had fallen sick from his fasts and vigils, from 
the blows of the discipline administered by his old 
chaplain, Robert of Merton, and from his long hours 
of prayer. 

So the year passed on. In England everything 
was quiet. " Not the least curious part in the Pipe 
Roll of 1165-66," says Dr. Stubbs, "is the almost 
entire absence of any sign that the continued exile 
of the archbishop, a leading feature of the history 
in the writings of the chroniclers, and in the develop- 
ment of national sentiment, was at all affecting the 
working of the Government. His property is in the 
king's hands, and his name occurs now and then in 
reference to sureties, but, considering the position 
which he had occupied four years earlier, he seems to 
be little missed." 2 Henry held England in his hand. 

1 Materials, v, 197. 

1 Preface to Pipe Roll, 1165-66. 

9 (aai6) 


Men held their breath, fearing what might come. 
Some, like John of Salisbury, could honestly swear 
that they were loyal both to primate and king. The 
exiles longed to return. But no way was open. 
Still the archbishop kept up the appearance of his 
authority. He wrote letters to the Church in Bangor, 
giving orders about elections ; he wrote advice to 
the old English saint, Gilbert of Sempringham, who 
had done so much to regenerate the religion of the 
Midlands. Then at last, as the time grew towards 
the Easter of 1166, he prepared to speak and to act. 

His determination may well have been aroused by 
the interview which some of his clerks had with 
king Henry at Angers on Low Sunday, 1166. The 
scene is thus vigorously described by William 
Fitz-Stephen 1 

" As Henry sat among his courtiers the first who 
came before him was John of Salisbury, who on 
entering the room saluted the king, and asked to 
be allowed to return to England in peace, and be 
restored to his ecclesiastical preferments, because he 
had never knowingly done anything to offend the 
king, and was ready to serve him as his earthly 
master with all devotion and fidelity, saving his own 
order. To this it was replied on the part of the king, 
that John was born in his dominions, and all his 
relations obtained their subsistence there, and that 
he had risen under his majesty's protection to riches 
and honour, and he ought, therefore, to be faithful 
to the king in everything, not only against the arch- 
bishop but against everybody in the world ; and 
when this was said, they put before him a form of 
oath, binding him to be faithful to the king in life 

1 Materials, iii, 98. 


and limb, and to defend the earthly honour of his 
majesty against all persons whatsoever, and in 
particular that he would observe the royal constitu- 
tions and dignities as they had been reduced to 
writing, notwithstanding all that the Pope or his 
archbishop or bishop might do. John assented to 
all this until he got to the constitutions, but here he 
stuck, saying that the Church of Canterbury had 
nurtured him from his youth, and that he had sworn 
obedience to the Pope and to the archbishop, nor 
undertake to observe any of the constitutions without 
their authority, but he was prepared to conform to 
all which met with their approval, and to reject all 
that they rejected. This answer, however, did not 
satisfy the king, and John of Salisbury was ordered 
to withdraw. 

" Herbert of Bosham was then called in. ' Now,' 
said king Henry to his attendants, ' you will see 
a proud fellow come in.' Herbert was of a great 
stature and good-looking, and had on a handsome 
dress of green cloth of Auxerre, consisting of a coat 
and cloak, which hung over his shoulders in the 
German fashion, down to his heels, with every other 
appurtenance corresponding. Having first saluted 
the king, he sat down. He was questioned in the 
same manner as John, and made for the most part 
the same answers. On the mention of loyalty, and 
the archbishop, he said that the archbishop above all 
men was most especially loyal, for that he had not 
suffered the king to go astray unwarned. Of the 
usages he spoke as John had done, and added, that 
he wondered the king had put them in writing. 
' For,' said he, ' in other kingdoms likewise there are 
evil usages against the Church ; but they are not 


written, and for this reason there is hope, by God's 
grace, that they may become disused.' The king, 
wishing to catch him in his words, asked, ' And 
what are the ill usages in the kingdom of our lord the 
king of the Franks ? ' 

" Herbert. ' The exactions of toll and passage 
money from the clergy and strangers. Again, when 
a bishop dies, all his moveables, even the doors 
and windows of his house, become the king's. Again, 
these and similar ill usages, though they exist, are still 
not written in the realm of the king of the Germans.' 

" The king. ' Why do you not call him by his 
proper title, the emperor of the Germans ? ' 

" Herbert. ' He is king of the Germans, but when 
he writes it is written Imperator Romanorum, semper 

" The king. ' This is abominable. Is this son 
of a priest to disturb my kingdom and disquiet my 
peace ? ' 

" Herbert. ' It is not I that do it ; nor, again, 
am I the son of a priest, for I was born before my 
father entered orders ; nor is he a king's son, whose 
father was not king when he was born.' 

" Here Jordan Tarsun, one of the barons sitting 
by, said to his neighbour, ' Whosoever son he is, I 
would give half my land that he were mine.' 

" The king was angry and said nothing ; Herbert 
was dismissed and withdrew. 

" Philip de Calve was then called in ; he was by 
birth a Londoner, and had studied at Tours two 
years before the archbishop went into exile : he was 
very well-informed in the Scriptures, and a most 
eloquent man, but from ill-health he did not accom- 
pany his patron into exile, nor did he go to Rome, or 


mix himself up at all in the quarrel with the king. 
All this was now explained to the king; and his 
cause was supported by some influential advocates, 
who told the king that when Richard had heard of 
his having been deprived of his property in England 
on the archbishop's account, he exclaimed, ' Good 
God, what can our noble king expect to get from 
me ? ' The king was persuaded in his favour, and 
remitted the oath, together with a free-pardon and 
the restitution of all his possessions ; rising up, 
turned his attention to other matters." 

Herbert of Bosham, one may be sure, told his 
master of his bold speech with the king, though in 
later days he did not set it down in his book. He 
was no more a priest's son, he would say, than Henry 
was a king's son, for their fathers were not priest or 
king when they were born. And the experience of 
John of Salisbury and Herbert at Angers may well 
have stirred their archbishop to show a similar spirit. 


The spring IN the spring of 1166 Becket's patience a strange 
of 1166. word, some might say, to use of him had given 
way. He thought that only a decisive blow would 
mend all that had gone wrong. His authority was 
despised : England was oppressed and neglected ; 
the king worked his will uncontrolled and the bishops 
cared not for the flock. He had written to beseech 
support from every side, and he had not been without 
success ; even the king's mother, Matilda, " though 
she was of the race of the tyrants " the phrase of 
a worthy monk who went to see her on Becket's part 
said not a little in his favour. The Pope had 
written on his behalf to the kings of the Franks and 
the Scots and the count of Flanders. The arch- 
bishop now, after more than a year's silence, wrote 
directly to the king. 

He sent three letters, in an ascending scale of 
severity and vehemence as he received no answer. 
The first was in a sad note of tribulation. The Church 
was oppressed. He must warn the wicked from his 
ways. If Henry would amend them God would bless 
him greatly and give glory to his sons ; if not he 
dreaded lest the sword should not depart from his 

Again, when no answer came, Exspectans exspectavi: 
" I have waited for the day when God should turn 
you from crooked ways and evil counsels ; but I have 
waited in vain. Yet I have not ceased to pray God 


for a happy ending to the strife. Now the care of 
the Church of Canterbury forces me to address you 
warnings and even worse, for fear I should be an 
abettor of your counsellors' crimes ; for consent is 
participation in evil. Remember that your royal 
power must not be concerned with the Church's own 
matters : priestly matters are always dealt with 
in priestly councils." Then comes the result of those 
law studies that John of Salisbury deprecated : 
" The Decretals have proved an armoury. Constantine 
tells the priesthood, ' You can be judged by no man, 
who are reserved for the judgment seat of God,' and 
Gratian that two powers rule the world, the sacred 
authority of prelates and the royal power, of which 
the former is so much the greater that it has to give 
account of kings. God has raised you up, but how 
many kings has God abased ? Remember the 
excommunication of Arcadius and of Theodosius. 
Do you bow before the Church's rebuke as David 
before Nathan, and cast away the evil counsellors 
and all will go well. Repent and ' remember the 
last things, so shalt thou never sin.' ' 

Still no answer. And then came the letter without 
superscription save " ' These are the words of the 
lord of Canterbury to the king of the English ' : 
With desire I have desired to see your face and to 
speak with you, for my own sake and for yours. For 
mine, that I might recall to your mind how faithfully 
I served you of old, and your affection for me might 
be moved by seeing me a mendicant among strangers ; 
for yours, as my master to whom I owe counsel, my 
king to whom I owe reverence and warning, my son 
whom I ought to castigate and coerce." 

So then the archbishop sets before the king what 


he thinks are the true relations between Church and 
State. " The Church of Christ is constituted in two 
orders, the clergy and the people, the one having the 
care of the Church that all may be ruled for the salva- 
tion of souls, the other contains kings, princes and 
nobles who have to carry on secular government that 
all things may lead to the peace and unity of the 
Church. As it is certain that kings get this power 
from the Church, the Church not from them but from 
Christ, so you, king, have no right to judge eccle- 
siastical causes, matters of tithes, oaths and such like. 
Err not, therefore, nor consort with schismatics. 
Remember the promise, which you laid in writing 
on the altar at your coronation by my predecessor, 
that you would preserve the liberties of the Church. 
Restore then the possessions of the Church of Canter- 
bury, and let us her ministers return in safety. Or 
know for certain that you shall feel the severity and 
vengeance of God." 

Such was the theory which Becket had accepted 
during the months of seclusion and study at Pontigny. 
That it had guided his earlier life as chancellor or even 
as archbishop there is nothing to prove. It was a 
theory which no doubt he had studied at Bologna 
and Auxerre, but which had been confronted by very 
different views for which the Civil rather than the 
Canon Law was responsible. When he first came 
into conflict with Henry the matter was one of 
practical disagreement, and though theory lay to 
some extent at the back of his disagreement with the 
Constitutions, it was not brought forward or elabora- 
ted till the primate had considered the relations of 
Church and State in all their bearings, and under the 
healing influence of ecclesiastical doctrinaires. 


The theory which he now set out, in his three letters Weakness 
to Henry, was one for which no warrant could be * the 
found in the New Testament ; it is hardly too much 
to say that there was no support for it in the writings 
of the early Christian centuries : it is beyond question 
that it owed its strength to the false Decretals, which 
had now permeated ecclesiastical law. It appeared 
full blown in the vehement letters of Hildebrand, and 
it was gradually accepted, not without reluctance, by 
other champions of the Church during the struggle 
concerning investitures. Becket, with his legal 
training, had now clearly come to see that it was 
impossible to fight a great king by merely practical 
considerations, when the strength of the English 
episcopate and baronage was thrown largely on the 
king's side. He must have the support of a theory 
that had great names behind it. When he began 
to consider whether his own course had been right, 
and whether he would be justified in yielding to the 
king's wishes and there are unmistakable signs 
during the period when the Constitutions were being 
considered that he had grave hesitation he found 
a theory waiting to his hand, which had been advo- 
cated by the greatest Churchmen of the previous 
generation, and which dissolved his doubts. There 
can be no doubt that Henry's letter to Reginald 
of Koln in which he had declared his intention to 
desert " Alexander and his perfidious cardinals," the 
contents of which seem soon to have become known, 
had convinced him that his own difficulties were only 
part of a larger dispute, and were indeed an offshoot 
of the secular strife between Church and State in 
which the genius of Hildebrand and the holiness of 
Anselm seemed to supply convincing argument that 


the cause of righteousness was involved. Seeing his 
own misfortunes in that light, and having before 
his eyes the oppression which his friends and kindred 
suffered, he determined to take up the cause as one of 
eternal justice and to press it to a conclusion with all 
his spiritual powers. Already indeed he may have 
seen that the question would eventually merge itself 
in that contest against what later ages called Eras- 
tianism, the domination of temporal power over 
spiritual interests, which eventually brought about 
his own death. Meanwhile he had convinced himself 
that he was right, and he would act. 

He had sent his last letter by a bare-footed monk, 
who was charged with still plainer words than were 
written down. Henry in vain endeavoured to meet 
the danger by an appeal to the Pope, thus throwing 
aside his own Constitutions, which had been taken to 
abolish such a resort. Becket had warned the king's 
mother that in a very short time he would " unsheath 
the sword of the Spirit," though even now if her son 
would listen to her counsels and the voice of God 
he should be spared ; meanwhile the primate waited, 
" mourning with eagerness as over a dying son." It 
was to no purpose that the crafty Arnulf of Lisieux 
wrote to beg him to let the king have the appearance 
of triumph while he himself could glory before God 
in the consciousness of right. It was no satisfaction 
to Becket to be assured that he was offered up as a 
sweet sacrifice to God for his brethren, or that there 
was no one who had not bowed the knee to Baal. 1 
The unctuous commonplaces of clericalism were never 
to his mind. His hour of triumph seemed at hand. 
The party of emperor and anti-pope were for the 
1 See Materials, Vol. V, Letters 162 and 163. 


time defeated. The exiled Pope had returned in The Pope's 
triumph to Rome, and the first signs of his new ren ewed 
confidence in himself were a series of letters in which 
he threw himself decisively on the archbishop's side. 
Documents which it is impossible precisely to date 
belong most probably to this period and form a series 
of definite meaning. Alexander authorises Becket to 
issue censures against the invaders of Church property, 
and he informs the suffragans of Canterbury that he 
has done so. He requires Foliot and all the English 
bishops to see that the property taken from the 
archbishop's clerks is restored : he forbids Roger of 
York, should occasion ever arise, to interfere with 
the privilege of Canterbury in crowning kings ; by bull 
he confirms to Becket all the privileges of the metro- 
politan see. On Easter Day, April 24th, 1166, from 
the Lateran, he appointed the archbishop of Canter- 
bury legate over the whole of England except the 
diocese of York, with full powers, which powers in a B ^ c ^ et as 
letter to the bishops he ordered them all implicitly legate. 
to observe. 1 

Becket, in a letter to Robert of Hereford and 
Roger of Worcester, announced his legation and 
instructed them to tell the bishops. He now was 
ready to act. The notice of appeal sent to Pontigny 
had arrived when he was gone. 2 Already the abbat 

1 Materials, v, Letters 164, 165, 166, 169, 170, 171, and 159. 

2 " An appeal against a sentence of excommunication, in 
order to be valid, must be made before the sentence is passed ; 
after the sentence, the person excommunicated, being no 
longer a member of the Church, cannot be acknowledged 
in the character of an appellant, but only as a penitent. This 
is not the case with any other appeals except that against 
excommunication." R. H. Froude, History of the Contest 
between Thomas Becket and Henry II. (Remains, Part II, 
Vol. II, 1839). Becket did not excommunicate Hen,ry, it will 
be seen, or any of the bishops. 



had received warning that if the order supported the 
archbishop more the king would no longer endure 
the injury but find a remedy, language none the less 
terrifying for its ambiguity. Thus, the archbishop 
might now feel that a whole order of innocent monks 
was involved in his cause and would suffer if he 
suffered. An English king with vast foreign pos- 
sessions was able to execute his threats with terrifying 
force, as medieval history shows again and again. 
Becket, who never avoided a conflict, was ready to 
show how the Church could guard herself against the 
secular arm. Spiritual censures afforded a weapon 
that perhaps might even ward off the threatened 
blow. And spiritual censures were already deserved 
and already prepared. The archbishop left Pontigny, 
and a period of peaceful repose was ended. 

Pontigny speaks of seclusion and patience, Vezelay 
of stern protest and command. A long journey from 
the pasture-land of the Cistercian house and Becket 
made it longer by a pilgrimage to Soissons, " girding 
himself for the battle," as says John of Salisbury, 
before the famous shrines of the Virgin, of S. Drausius, 
the Frankish saint " to whom men go when they are 
set to fight," and S. Gregory the Great is Vezelay, 
the splendid church of the Benedictines at the height of 
their power. Striking is the contrast to the traveller to- 
day. Pontigny is a perfect example of the " Pointed " 
style, which in England we have come to call Early 
English: Vdzelay is what we call " Norman." 

The church of the Abbey, dedicated to S. Mary 

The Church Magdalen, stands on a long, narrow hill which over- 

of Vezelay. i oo k s the valleys of the Yonne and the Cure, and 

looks across them to wooded heights, almost 

mountains, whence the forests descend into the 


valleys and fringe the closely cultivated fields, 
and where ten miles away is the exquisite little 
town of Avallon, protected in the Middle Ages on all 
sides by the hands of Nature and of man. l 

By devious ways, across winding streams, first over 
that pons insignis of Pontigny that spans the river 
a few yards from the Abbey gate and hard by the old 
Abbey mill, and last over that fine medieval bridge 
which crossed the Cure, in the valley between pre- 
cipitous rocks, at the entrance to the domains of 
the great abbat, whose fortified gate marked the 
beginning of the lands he ruled, the exiled Primate 
of England drew near to the church where he had 
determined to vindicate his claim to justice and 
restoration. Slowly would the little procession of 
his followers toil up the hill which dominates the 
country for many miles around. At length they 
stood in Solemn awe before the Judgment depicted 
over the great west door. " Man's judgment is 
tolerable only when he speaks for God," some of them 
would say ; " Is it not then least tolerable of all ? " 
would be the question in others' hearts. To-day 
we can realise the grandeur of that scene when, on 
Whit-Sunday, 1166, 2 before a concourse of "divers 
nations," the archbishop pronounced his sentence 
of excommunication against the chief offenders, read 
the Pope's condemnation of the Constitutions of 

1 Avalon, in the department of Isere, is carefully to be 
distinguished from Avallon (Yonne). The former was the 
birthplace of S. Hugh. 

1 There is a slight doubt about the date. Herbert of 
Bosham and Gervase of Canterbury say it was on S. Mary 
Magdalen's Day ; but John of Salisbury, who was probably 
present, gives Pentecost (June 12th), and Nicholas of Mont 
S. Jacques, Rouen, confirms the date by indisputable evidence. 


Clarendon, and warned his sovereign and his old 
friend of the sentence that awaited him, in a voice 
choked by sobs. 

Theexcom- When he had arrived at Ve"zelay he had heard of 

munication the king's illness at Chinon, and by John of Salis- 

Sund" bury's advice, * he delayed the sentence against him. 

1 1 66. ' The offenders he dealt with by excommunication 

were John of Oxford, because he had fallen into heresy 

by taking the sacrilegious oath at Wiirzburg and 

communicating with the schismatic Reginald of Koln, 

and because he had "usurped" the deanery of 

Salisbury, and Richard of Ilchester who had done the 

like ; Joceline de Balliol and Richard de Lucy, the 

true authors, as his party said, of the Constitutions ; 

Ranulf de Broc, Hugh de S. Clare, Thomas Fitz- 

Bernard, and all who had laid hands on the 

revenues and property of the see of Canterbury. 

He then denounced the customs, as condemned by 
the Pope, and chiefly the seventh, as to excom- 
munication of tenants in chief; the fifteenth, giving 
to lay courts jurisdiction over perjury and bad faith ; 
the third, that clerks should be brought before secular 
tribunals the statement is precise, " quod ad 
saecularia judicia trahantur clerici," not that they 
should be tried by lay courts but brought into them 
to plead their privilege of clergy, and back again, if 
found guilty, to be sentenced there the first, that 
laymen, whether king's or others, should deal with 
cases concerning churches and tithes ; and the fourth 
and eighth, as to appeals and the right to leave the 
country freely. 

1 Who is our original authority for the scene. Letter to 
Bartholomew of Exeter, in Materials, v, 376. Herbert of 
Bosham adds some details, but he wrote years afterwards. 


So Becket took his stand clearly on the Pope's side. 
The Pope's enemies were his enemies. What the 
Pope condemned he condemned. It was part of that 
long strife between Empire and Papacy of which men 
had not yet seen the end. The voice rang through 
the aisles of V6zelay denouncing the enemies of Pope 
and archbishop as the enemies of God. 

Twenty years before S. Bernard had preached The mem- 
Crusade on the rock outside, for the great church ries 
could not contain the crowd which pressed to take the 2 
cross. Fourteen years later, when Becket and his 
king had passed away, Richard of England, called 
Lion Heart, and Philip of France, called Augustus, 
met in the plain below to take the oath of faithfulness 
in the Holy Cause, having war in their hearts. But 
never, since that Whit-Sunday in 1166, have the very 
walls of that great church itself, among the finest 
in the whole world of all the buildings which the 
French architects call " Romanesque " and we 
" Norman," echoed to a voice more powerful at a 
time of greater stress. Becket celebrated High Mass, 
and then he mounted the pulpit, looking down the 
long nave to where, it may well be, the great doors 
were open into the wonderful narthex beyond. If 
Ve'zelay was not the grandest of all the Cluniac 
churches, it is, as Walter Pater said, " certainly the 
grandest of them which remains." 

It is typically monastic, typically Romanesque, j^ g rea t 
The narthex is strangely Byzantine in the decoration church, 
of the capitals and the sculptures of the tympanum ; 
there are details which might have come from 
S. Sophia, as in the grim crypt below there are details 
which recall the elaborate carving of the capitals in 
the sixth-century underground palace (Yeri Batan 


Serai), at Constantinople. But the general effect is 
one of immense strength, reserve, and power. The 
arches of the nave are high up, spanned by stones 
which are alternately white and a sort of dark green, 
and above those at the side is no trif orium, but a plain, 
unbroken surface, which has an effect of great severity 
and above which there is but one small window, a 
kind of clerestory, to each bay. The decoration, 
which leaves the walls untouched, is lavished on the 
capitals, where all sorts of strange stories are depicted, 
legends of saints and scenes which look like the very 
life in Le Morvan itself. But the extraordinary 
minuteness of this decoration, which extends from 
the west door itself, through the narthex, with its 
gallery (perhaps for women, as in the Eastern churches 
which it strangely resembles, on the great days of 
feasts, when the monks' church was invaded by 
masses of all nations from afar) and its own splendid 
portals, up the nave to the later and most beautiful 
Pointed choir, yet does not diminish the power of the 
chief note of severity, simplicity, awe. The choir 
itself, a most exquisite example of the style of the 
twelfth and thirteenth centuries, may not have been 
begun when Becket preached his famous sermon. 
But as he looked westward and faced the massed 
multitude before him all of the building that his eyes 
rested on our eyes can see to-day. Magnificent it is, 
instinct with reverence, almost stupendous in its 
solemnity. Even here there is a link with his own 
Canterbury. Already something of the Pointed arch 
is beginning to appear, in the wonderful narthex, the 
work of the first half of the twelfth century. But not 
till the metropolitan Cathedral rose in its new glory 
as a monument to the martyr was there it may 

almost without hesitation be said anything in 
England so dignified, so impressive, as the great church 
of the Cistercians at Vezelay. 

And it is at Vezelay, stern and cold, that the 
memory of the archbishop, in his most unyielding 
mood, seems most fitly to linger. At Pontigny, the 
place of his fasts and vigils, dwells rather the spirit 
of the gentle Edmund, where his body rests. 

The archbishop of Canterbury had acted on his Letter 
own responsibility. Now he wrote to the Pope to tell to the 

him what he had done and to ask him to support bish P s . 

, ~~ announcing 

his actions. Alexander confirmed them. The arch- the 

bishop notified his action to the bishops of his sentences, 
province, wrote to the chapter of Salisbury annulling 
the election of John as dean, and to the archbishop 
of Rouen and the bishop of Chichester, especially 
advising them of his acts. 

The letter to the bishops of his province was as 

" My beloved brethren, why do you not rise 
together with me against the malignants ? Why do 
you not stand up with me to oppose those who work 
iniquity ? Do you not know how that God will 
scatter the bones of those who strive to oppress 
Him : they shall be confounded, because the Lord 
hath despised them. Your discretion knows well that 
evil, when not resisted, is approved, and truth, when 
not defended, is crushed : and, as Gregory says, he 
is consenting unto wrong, who does not step forward 
to correct that which requires amendment. For this 
cause it is that we have too long borne with our 
lord the king, and the Church of God has gained no 
alleviation from our sufferance. For the rest, it is 
dangerous any longer to tolerate the excesses which 

10 (8216) 


he commits in his treatment of the Church and of 
ecclesiastics, particularly as we have endeavoured, 
by messengers and by letters, to turn him from the 
error of his ways. And since he has heard, but not 
listened to us, we have invoked God's Holy Spirit, 
and condemned and annulled that charter which 
contains his constitutions, or rather depravities, by 
which the peace of the Church has been so much 
disturbed. Moreover, we have excommunicated all 
who advised them, or have observed them, or aided 
in their promulgation, and by God's authority, and 
our own, we have absolved all the bishops from the 
promise which bound them unlawfully to their 
observance. ' For who can doubt that Christ's 
priests are the fathers and masters of kings and princes 
and of all the faithful ? Is it not pitiable folly for the 
son to exercise power over the father, or the scholar 
over his master, by whom he believes that he may 
be bound and loosed both in earth below and in 
heaven above ? ' [Here he is quoting Gregory VII, 
through Gratian.] Wherefore, that we may not fall 
into this error, we have condemned that writing, and 
the depravities which it contains." * 

He gives the clauses as John of Salisbury gave 
them, and continues 

" Furthermore, we denounce as excommunicate, 
and do hereby excommunicate by name, John of 
Oxford, because he has fallen into a damnable heresy, 
by making oaths to schismatics, whereby the schism 
in Germany, that had well nigh expired, has revived, 
and because he has communicated with Reginald the 
schismatical bishop of Cologne, and because he has 
usurped the deanery of Salisbury contrary to the 

1 Materials, v, 392 sqq. 


mandate of the Pope and of ourself. And as this deed 
is unlawful and detrimental to the Church, we have 
utterly annulled it, and have commanded the bishop 
of Salisbury, as soon as he sees our letters, to hold him 
no longer as dean. 

" Also, we have excommunicated, and do hereby 
excommunicate, Richard of Ilchester, because he 
has fallen into the same damnable heresy, by com- 
municating with the same Reginald, the schismatic 
of Cologne, and by contriving evil against God's 
Church, in conjunction with the schismatical Ger- 
mans, and particularly against the Church of Rome, 
by the treaty which he has contracted between those 
Germans and the king. 

" We excommunicate also Richard de Lucy and 
Joceline de Balliol, who were the authors and 
fabricators of those depravities aforesaid. 

" Also Ranulf de Broc, who has seized, and holds in 
his possession, the goods of the Church of Canterbury, 
which are the inheritance of the poor, and because he 
detains in custody our men, both clerks and laymen. 

" Also Hugh de Saint Clare and Thomas Fitz- 
Bernard, who also seized and holds possession of the 
goods and possessions of the Church of Canterbury 
without our consent. 

" We have, moreover, pronounced the same 
sentence of excommunication against all who shall 
hereafter lay hands upon the possessions of our 
Church, according to that sentence of Pope Lucius : 
' All plunderers of the Church, and alienators of 
sacred property, we do anathematize and condemn, 
and pronounce to be guilty of sacrilege : and not only 
themselves, but all who abet them ; for the same 
punishment awaits the agents and their abettors : 


and Scripture says in another place, ' He who consents 
unto sinners, or defends another in his sins, shall be 
accursed before God and man, and shall be corrected 
with the most severe correction.' And again : ' If 
anyone defends a sinner, let him be punished worse 
than he who sinned.' 

" In truth, we have delayed to pass sentence on the 
person of our lord the king, waiting, if perhaps he 
may, by God's grace, repent : but we will pass it ere 
long, unless he does repent. For this cause it is, that 
we command your fraternity, and enjoin you in 
virtue of your obedience, that whereas we have 
excommunicated the aforesaid persons, you also, 
as is your duty, shall also hold them as excommuni- 
cated, and denounce them as such, according to that 
decree of Pope Honorius : ' Let all bishops certify 
to the neighbouring bishops, as well as to their own 
clergy, the names of those whom they have ex- 
communicated, that they may be fixed publicly upon 
the doors of the church, and all who come may see 
them, and thus they may be excluded from entering 
in, and all men may be without excuse.' 

" Moreover, we commend you, my brother of 
London, in virtue of your obedience, to certify these 
our letters to all our brethren, the bishops of our 
province. Farewell in Christ, and pray for us without 
ceasing ! " 



SOMETHING like terror was felt in England when the 
news of the Ve"zelay censures arrived. The bishops sen e tence 
and abbats met to consult as to what should be done, announced 
On the feast of the Commemoration of S. Paul, as |* 
Foliot was at the altar of his cathedral church, the j une 30) ' 
official notice of Becket's appointment was handed "66. 
to him. 1 But before this the bishop had addressed 
joint letters to the Pope and the primate. 

The first was practically a vindication of Henry. 
The bishops of London and Hereford had reproved 
him and he had borne it well. The peace of the realm 
had been disturbed by certain clerks, and the king's 
desire was only for justice, while the bishops had 
clung to clerical immunities. It was thus that the 
king had had the ancient liberties of his realm defined, 
and that was the whole of his cruelty, perversity and 
malignity, with which the world was ringing. Then 
came the fierce letters of Becket reopening strife which 
had been healed. (Here the bishops showed them- 
selves partisans.) And so they appealed to the Pope, 
lest worst should befall them. 

To Becket they said and the letter was sent in Letter to 
the name of the Clerus Angliae that they had heard Becket, 
with gladness that he was spending his time abroad J une ' I] 
in poverty and prayer : while this could be said of him 

1 On the whole, though I see the difficulty as to date, I 
think Canon Robertson's view, Materials, v, 417, is correct. 
But see Miss Norgate, Angevin Kings, ii, 68, note. 



his friends could use their influence with the king 
without hesitation. But now he had written fiercely 
and with threats of excommunication. This was 
obvious ingratitude. Let him look back to the time 
when he was raised from so low a state to be the 
king's friend and high in rule of all his dominions 
from the Pyrenees to the North Sea : and then Henry 
went further and against the advice of his mother 
and the groans of the kingdom and the whole Church, 
raised you high in the things of God. Spare yourself ! 
it was an unhappy return to Foliot's phrase which 
the Pope had rebuked, and marks the real author of 
the letter. For in his exasperation the king may 
well desert to the anti-pope, he who hitherto has stood 
firm as a rock this was a bold statement indeed. 
Much more to this effect ; and an appeal, which the 
king supported. 

To Becket, who loved argument, and had an 
undoubting belief in the strength of his cause, this 
letter seemed to have delivered his foes and his critics 
into his hand. Thus he replied J 

" Thomas, by the Grace of God humble minister of 
the Church of Canterbury, to his reverend brethren 
in general, by God's grace bishops of the province of 
Canterbury, if indeed the letter be their joint produc- 
tion, health and grace to act as they have not yet 
acted. Your joint letter, my bethren, which has just 
reached us, but which we cannot easily believe to 
have proceeded from your joint wisdom, has filled 
us with astonishment. Its contents seem to convey 
more of irony than of consolation ; and I would that 
it had been dictated by pious zeal and feeling of 
charity rather than the suggestions of the will. . . . 

1 Dr. Giles's Translation. Materials, v, p., 490 sqq. 


" Would to God, my beloved brethren, that you had The case 
the same zeal in defending the liberty of the Church 
as you have shown towards its confusion in your bishop, 
letters of appeal falsely, as we believe, so called. 
But her foundations are upon a rock, nor is any man 
able to up-turn, though he may shake, them. Why 
do you endeavour to confound me, and in me to 
confound yourselves and me together ? I have taken 
the whole danger upon myself, I have borne so many 
reproaches, so many injuries, and have suffered pro- 
scription in behalf of all of you. It was expedient 
that one man shall be afflicted for the Church, that 
so she might be released from slavery. Consider the 
matter in single-mindedness, examine it well, and 
weigh well the result, that you may set aside the 
majesty of royalty and regard to persons of whom 
God is no accepter, and that you may be brought to 
understand the true nature of what you have done 
and of what you are about to do. May God remove 
the veil from your hearts that you may perceive your 
duty. If there be anyone among you who can say 
that since my promotion I have taken away from him 
an ox or an ass, or his money ; if I have judged un- 
justly the cause of anyone, or to the injury of anyone 
among you have procured advantage to myself, let 
him now speak and I will restore four-fold. But if 
I have offended no one, why do you leave me to 
fight alone in the cause of God ? You are fighting 
against yourselves in that cause so vital to the inter- 
ests of the Church. Do not so, my brethren, do not, 
as far as lies in your power, confound both yourselves 
and God's Church, but turn to me and you will be 
safe. For the Lord hath said ' I will not the death 
of the unrighteous, but rather that he should be 


converted and live.' Stand manfully with me in the 
battle, with shield and sword, rise up to aid me. 
Gird yourselves with the sword of God's word, which 
is all powerful, that we may be the better able to 
strive in the discharge of our duty against those who 
work iniquity and assail that liberty which is the 
existence of the Church, without which she cannot 
flourish nor keep down those who would possess as 
their inheritance the sanctuary of the Lord. 
The duty of " Let us make haste then lest the anger of God 
the bishops, descend upon us as upon negligent and slothful 
shepherds. Let us not be taken for dumb dogs, that 
cannot bark ; let it not be said of us by those who 
pass by, ' From the elders of Babylon iniquity hath 
gone forth.' If in truth you listen to me, know 
that the Lord will be with you, and with all of you, 
in all your ways to give peace to his Church and to 
defend her liberties. If you will not listen to me, 
let God judge between me and you, and at your 
hands will be required the troubles and confusion of 
his Church. For whether the world will or no, she 
must stand firm in the word of the Lord, whereon 
she is built, until the hour come when she shall pass 
from this world to the Father. God will judge why 
you have left me alone in the battle, with no one of 
all those who were dear to me to go up with me to 
the fight ; insomuch that each of you may think or 
say, Woe to him alone, for if he falls he has no one to 
raise him up. But my hopes are laid up within my 
own bosom, for he is not alone with whom the Lord 
is ; when he falls he shall not be dashed to pieces, 
for the Lord sustains him in his hand. 

The exile. " But let us come to the point, my brethren ; has it 
escaped your memory how I and the Church were 


dealt with when I was still in England ? what was 
done at the time of my departure, after my departure 
and in these latter days, and especially at Northamp- 
ton, when Christ was judged in my person before 
the tribunal of the prince ? when the archbishop of 
Canterbury was constrained by the injuries done 
indiscriminately to himself and the Church of God to 
appeal to the Roman see, and to place under the 
protection of God and the Roman Church all the 
possessions which belonged to him, or rather which 
belonged to the poor, for they are the patrimony of 
our crucified Saviour, not given for our use but en- 
trusted to our stewardship ? Although the Divine 
mercy has sometimes allowed the archbishop of 
Canterbury to be exiled unjustly, yet who ever heard 
of his being tried and condemned, compelled to give 
bail in the king's court, above all by his own suffra- 
gans ? Where did they find this adverse authority, 
or rather perversity of the law and of the canons ? 
Does not this act of enormity produce shame in all 
of you shame leading to confusion confusion to 
repentance and repentance to retribution, both before 
God and man ? To these great injuries wrought 
against God and His Church, and against me fighting 
in God's cause, I was unable to submit with a safe 
conscience to remedy them without danger of my 
life, or to dissemble them without risk of my soul's 
salvation : wherefore I chose rather to turn aside for 
a while that I might dwell with greater benefit in the 
house of the Lord than in the tents of sinners, until 
their iniquity should be complete, the breasts of the 
wicked laid open, and the thoughts of their hearts be 
revealed. Thus the injuries that were done to me 
were the cause of my appeal. This was the occasion 


of my departure, which you say was so unexpected ; 
and if you, who know what was intended against me, 
and how I was dealt with, would but speak the truth, 
you will admit that I was to keep my departure secret, 
if I wished it not to be prevented altogether. But 
the Lord rules our misfortunes and turns them to 
good. He had regard to the honour of the king and 
his party, that nothing might be done against me 
which would redound to his dishonour, or to the 
dishonour of his family. And it turned out well for 
those who were eager for my death, and who thirsted 
for my blood, who aimed at the eminence of the see 
of Canterbury, and at my destruction, with an avidity 
which, I grieve to speak it, is said to have surpassed 
even their ambition. We have appealed against, and 
whilst the possessions of the see of Canterbury, of 
myself and of my adherents, remain as they ought in 
safety, we have been engaged in prosecuting our 

" If, as you say, things have been disturbed by my 
departure and in consequence of my departure, let 
him take the blame who gave occasion for this 
disturbance ; the fault lies with him who does the 
deed, not with him that retreats from it ; with him 
who inflicts, not with him who shuns an injury. The 
author of mischief is he who has given cause for it. 
What more can I say ? We presented ourselves 
before the court and explained the injuries done to 
the Church and to ourselves, the cause of our coming, 
and the motive of our appeal : there was no one to 
answer us in anything ; we waited, but no one 
brought anything against us : no judgment was 
reported against us until we came before the king. 
Whilst we were still waiting, as is usual, in the court, 


if by chance anything should be objected to us, our 
officials were forbidden to obey us in anything of a 
temporal nature, or to minister to us in any way 
against the command or without the knowledge of 
the king. It was you, they say, my brother of 
London, with Richard of Ilchester and the archbishop 
of York, who advised this sentence. After this they 
hurried to our lord the king, and the advice which 
they gave him will recoil on the head of the adviser. 
Without a trial, and for no reason, after we had 
already appealed, and whilst we were still remaining 
at the [papal] court, the Church was plundered and 
proscribed, clerks as well as laics, men and women, 
women with infants in the cradle. The goods of the 
Church, which are the patrimony of our crucified 
Saviour, were added to the exchequer ; part of the 
money was converted to the king's use, part to your 
use and to the use of your church, my brother of 
London, if we have truly been informed. We now 
claim it, if you have had it, at your hands, enjoining 
you by virtue of your obedience that within forty days 
after the receipt of this letter whatever you have re- 
ceived from thence, or have converted to the use of 
your church, you restore the whole thereof within the 
period above-named without excuse and without 
delay. For it is unjust and contrary to all right that 
one church should be enriched out of the spoils of 
another. You must well know that of things taken 
from churches that man is ill qualified to exercise 
lawful authority who practises violence and injustice. 
" Under what perverse code of laws or preposterous 
canons shall those who commit sacrilege and invade 
the goods of the church, shelter themselves, unless 
they restore what they have taken away ? Shall they 


have recourse to an appeal ? This would be intro- 
ducing novelties, contrary to all justice, into the 
churches. Consider the consequences of your pro- 
ceedings. Unless you take good heed they will be 
turned against yourselves and your churches. The 
Church of God would be hardly dealt with if a 
sacrilegious robber, invading its possessions and the 
possessions of his neighbours, should be able to 
protect himself by an appeal. It is in vain to im- 
plore the aid of justice when you have yourself 
neglected her and outraged her commands. Is it 
adding toil to toil, injuries to injuries, if we have 
been unable to bear such enormities as these and 
others which have been brought and still are wrought 
in the Church, because when aggrieved we appealed 
and left the court, because we ventured to complain 
of the injuries done to the Church and to ourselves, 
because we do not hold our peace on all these sub- 
jects, because we are preparing to correct them ? 
Sore, indeed, is a man's distress when he is denied 
the consolation even of complaining. You, my 
friends, whose minds are more elevated and endowed 
with greater prudence than the rest, since the children 
of light, why do you deceive your brethren and those 
who are placed under you ? Why do you lead them 
into error ? What authority of Scripture has con- 
ferred on princes this prerogative in spiritual matters 
which you are seeking to confer on them ? Do not, 
my brethren, confound the rights of the monarchy 
and the Church. Their powers are distinct, and 
one of them derives its authority from the other. 
Read the Scriptures and you will find how many 
kings have perished for usurping to themselves the 
sacerdotal office. Take heed to yourselves in your 


discretion lest the weight of the Divine arm fall on 
you for such a crime. If it so fall you will not easily 

" Consider, too, our lord the king ; you are courting The 
his favour at the expense of the Church : take care 
lest he perish (which God forbid !) with his whole 
house, as those have perished who have been detected 
in such iniquity. Unless he desist from his attempts 
with what conscience can we withhold punishment 
or dissemble his misdeeds ? Let him do so who has 
the power to cast a veil over sin, not I, lest such 
dissimulation recoil upon my own soul. 

" You hint in your letters, or rather you say openly, The 
that I was raised to this dignity amid the clamours election 
of the whole kingdom and the groans and the sorrow rch _ e 
of the Church. Know you what saith the Truth ? bishop. 
The mouth that knowingly speaks falsehood slayeth 
the soul. But the words of a priest ought ever to be 
accompanied by truth. Good God ! would not one 
of the common people blush to say what you have 
said ? Consult your own consciences, look at the 
form of election, the consent of all who were con- 
cerned therein, the consent of the king expressed 
through his son and through his emissaries, the 
consent of his son himself and of all the nobility of 
the kingdom. If anyone of them spoke against it, 
or opposed it in the least, let him speak who knows, 
let him proclaim it who is conscious of it. But if 
any individual thereby had a downfall let him not 
say that his private molestation was an injury done 
to the whole kingdom and to the Church. Remem- 
ber, moreover, the letters of the king and your own 
letters how you all, with much urgency, demanded 
the pall and obtained it for me. This is the truth of 


the matter. But if anyone has felt envy, or been 
actuated by ambition if so peaceful, so lawful, and 
so unanimous an election hath grieved anyone's 
mind and led him to practice machinations by which 
things have become disturbed, may God induce him, 
as He would, to confess his error, may he not be 
ashamed to acknowledge the disquietude of his mind 
in the face of all men. 

" You say that the king raised me to honour from 
a mean estate. I am not indeed sprung from royal 
ancestors, but I would rather be the man to whom 
nobility of mind gives the advantages of birth than 
one in whom a noble ancestry degenerates. I was, 
perhaps, born beneath a humble roof ; but by God's 
mercy, that knoweth how to deal graciously with his 
servants, and chooses the humble to confound the 
brave, even in my humble condition before I entered 
into God's service my way of life was sufficiently 
easy, sufficiently honourable, as you yourselves know, 
even as that of the best among my neighbours and 
acquaintances, whosoever they might be. David also 
was taken from the goats to become the ruler of 
God's people, and was exalted by his courage and 
glory because he walked in the ways of the Lord. 
Peter was taken from fishing to become the head of 
the Church, and, by shedding his blood for Christ, 
he was thought worthy to receive a crown in heaven, 
a name of honour upon earth. I pray that we also 
may do likewise ; for we are the successors of S. Peter, 
not of Augustus. God knows with what eagerness 
the king himself wished my promotion. Let him 
consult his own intentions ; they will best answer 
him ; and we, too, will respond to the requirements 
of our duty, more faithfully by God's mercy, in our 

OF Gl 



severity than is done by those who flatter him with 
falsehoods. For better are the stripes of a friend 
than the deceitful embraces of an enemy. 

" You throw out against us an imputation of 
ingratitude. But there is no mortal sin which entails 
infamy on a man, unless it has proceeded from the 
intention. Thus, if one commit homicide unwillingly, 
though he is called a homicide, and is one, yet he 
does not incur the guilt of homicide. We apply the 
principle in this way : Though we owe obedience by 
the divine law to our lord the king, if we are bound 
to pay him respect by the royal prerogative, if we 
have checked him or warned him as a son with pater- 
nal love, if after warning we have grieved that he 
did not listen to us, and by the force of duty exercise 
towards him censure and severity, we believe that we 
are acting rather on his behalf and for his good, than 
in opposition to him ; that we deserve praise at his 
hands rather than blame or the reproach of ingrati- 
tude. Certainly, benefits are often conferred on men 
against their will, and that man's safety is better 
regarded who is deterred from the perpetration of a 
crime by force even if he cannot in any other way. 
Besides, our Father and patron, Christ Himself, 
exonerates us from the stamp of ingratitude. By His 
Father's prerogative we are bound to obey Him, and 
if we neglect this we shall be justly punished by 
being disinherited. A father can disinherit his son 
for a just cause : for He says, ' If you do not tell the 
wicked of his iniquity, and he die in his sin, I will 
require his blood at your hand.' If, therefore, we do 
not convene him who sins, if we do not reprove him 
when he will not listen to us, and coerce him when 
he is pertinacious, we offend against the precept and 


are justly disinherited as guilty of disobedience. By 
his prerogative of being our patron we are held to 
revere and to obey Him, because we are his freed 
men, for whereas we were slaves of sin we are become 
freed unto righteousness through His grace. As 
therefore we are bound to no other, but saving our 
allegiance to Him, if aught be done vexatiously 
against Him to the injury of his Church, if we do not 
punish the crime by exerting in His cause that solici- 
tude which is incumbent on us, He will deservedly 
withdraw from us the benefits which He has heaped 
upon us, and thus we indeed show ourselves 

" You name to us the danger which will accrue to 
the Roman Church, the loss of her temporalities. 
This danger fails on us and on ours, but nothing is 
said of the danger to the soul. You hold over us a 
threat that our lord the king will withdraw (God 
forbid it !) from his allegiance and devotion to the 
Roman Church. God forbid, I say, that temporal 
gain or loss should ever cause our lord the king to 
fall back from his allegiance or devotion to the 
Church ! This would be criminal and damnable even 
in a private man ; how much more so in a prince who 
draws so many after him. God forbid that any of 
the faithful should ever entertain this thought, much 
less speak it, however humble he may be, not to say 
a bishop. 

" Consider in your discretion, lest the words of 
your mouth should tempt anyone, or even several, to 
the risk and damnation of their souls, like the golden 
cup of Babylon, smeared within and without with 
poison, of which he that drinks fears not the poison 
when he sees the gold ; thus a desire to do this deed 


may spread abroad, and yours will be the deed. For 
He who is not deceived, brings the secret deed to light, 
and unveils wicked machinations. 

" The Church hath ever increased and multiplied 
under tribulation and blood-shedding. It is her 
peculiarity to conquer whilst she is injured, to possess 
understanding when she is refuted, to succeed when 
she is deserted. Do not mourn for her, my brethren, 
but for yourselves, who are earning for yourselves 
a name, but not a great one, by such words and deeds, 
in the mouths of men. You provoke against you 
the anger of God and of all mankind : you are 
preparing a halter for the innocent, and inventing 
new and ingenious arguments, to subvert the liberty 
of the Church. My brethren, by God's mercy, you 
are labouring in vain. The Church will stand, though 
often shaken, in that firmness and solidity wherein 
she was founded, until the general consummation of 
all things, when that son of perdition shall arise, who 
will not, we think, arise from the west, unless the 
order of things as spoken of in the Scripture shall 
be perversely changed. 

" If, however, it be a question of temporal matters, 
we should rather fear the loss of souls than of tem- 
poralities. Scripture says, ' What doth it profit a 
man to gain the whole world and lose his own soul ? ' 
We, therefore, utterly cast from us the danger to us 
and to ours : for he is not to be feared who kills the 
body, but He who kills both body and soul. 

" You reprove us for suspending our venerable 

brother, the bishop of Salisbury, and excommunicating 

T , , j r a - , i~ Theexcom- 

John, the schismatic ex-dean ; for inflicting punish- mun i ca tion 

ment, as you say, before hearing the cause, or follow- of bishop of 
ing the usual course of canonical judgments. We Salisbur 7- 

II (23 1 6) 


answer that the sentence of both was just, the 
suspension of the one and the excommunication of 
the other. If you knew the whole course of the 
matter or rightly attended to the order of the judg- 
ments we think you would alter your opinion. Such 
is the extent of authority, as you ought to know, that 
in manifest and notorious crimes a hearing is not 
required. Consider diligently what was done by the 
bishop of Salisbury about the deanery after the pro- 
hibition, which our lord the Pope and ourselves made 
under pain of excommunication ; you will then be 
able to judge whether the suspension did not ensue 
after an act of manifest disobedience. Wherefore 
the blessed Clement says, ' If all of every degree, 
whether princes of inferior or superior rank and all 
the rest of the people, do not obey their bishops, 
they shall not only be branded with infamy, but cast 
out .from God's kingdom and the company of the 
faithful, and banished from the threshold of God's 
holy Church.' 

" As regards John of Oxford, we reply that different 
persons become excommunicated in different ways ; 
some by the law which denounces them as excom- 
municated, others marked by a sentence, and others 
again by communicating with those who are ex- 
communicated. Now John of Oxford fell into a 
damnable heresy by communicating with schismatics 
and with those whom our lord the Pope had ex- 
communicated, and so contracted in himself the taint 
of excommunication, which pollutes like a leprosy 
and involves the guilty and those who consent with 
them in the same punishment. And whereas John, 
thus excommunicate, usurped the deanery of Salis- 
bury contrary to the commands both of our lord the 


Pope and of ourselves, expressed under pain 
of anathema, we have denounced him and 
excommunicated him, and hold him as utterly 

" We have, moreover, annulled, and do hold as 
null, whatever has been done during his deanship, 
and connected with his deanship, as also our lord 
the Pope has already annulled it by authority of the 
eighth synod, of which this is the import : ' If any- 
one openly or secretly shall converse with one who is 
excommunicated, or join in communion with him, 
he at once contracts in himself the pain of excom- 
munication.' The Council of Carthage also says: 
' Whosoever communicates with one who is ex- 
communicated, if he is a clerk, shall be deposed. 
Take care, therefore, in your discretion, that none 
of you communicate with him.' For Pope Calixtus 
says : ' Let no one receive any that have been 
excommunicated by their priests, before he has made 
full enquiry on both sides, nor communicate with 
them in prayer, or in meat or drink, or with a kiss, 
or with words of salutation.' For whosoever shall 
communicate knowingly with the excommunicated, 
in these and other particulars which are forbidden, 
shall, according to the institution of the Apostles, 
lie under similar excommunication. This is the 
canonical regulation, not repugnant, as we believe, 
to the canons, but supported by their authority. . . . 

" To the fear of censure from us you oppose an 
appeal, not of remedy but of impediment. We know 
that everyone who appeals does so in his own name 
or in the name of another. If in his own name, it 
is either against a censure already passed or one 
which he fears will be passed upon him. We are 


certain that no censure has been passed on you by 
us, thank God, which requires that you should have 
recourse to an appeal, nor do we believe that there 
is any cause between us at present which especially 
concerns you. If you have appealed from fear that 
censure will be passed upon you or your churches, 
consider whether your fears are such as ought to be 
entertained by men of courage and fortitude, whether 
it be an appeal which ought to suspend the authority 
and power which we have over you and your churches. 
It is thought by the well-informed, and we also think 
the same, that it is of no weight, both because it is 
destitute of form and because it is inconsistent with 
reason and utterly unsupported by all justice. 

" If you have appealed in the name of another it 
must be in the name of the king or of some third 
party. If not of a third, it must be in the king's 
name. Wherefore you ought to have known in your 
discretion that appeals were introduced to repel in- 
juries, not to inflict them, to relieve the oppressed, 
not to oppress them more. If then a man appeals, 
not from confidence in the justice of his cause but 
for the sake of creating delay and that sentence may 
not pass against him, his appeal should not be 
listened to. 

" For what will be the condition of the Church, 
if, when her liberty is subverted, her possessions 
taken from her, her bishops expelled their sees, or 
not peacefully reinstated in full possession ; the 
robbers who plunder her and invade her rights, shall 
appeal against their sentence and find safety in their 
appeal ? What destruction will this be to the 
Church ! Reflect on the consequences of your 
words and deeds. Are you not Christ's Vicars ? 


Do you not supply His place on earth, to correct and 
punish malefactors, and cause them to cease from 
persecuting the Church of God ? Is it not more 
than enough that they should assail the Church, 
without your standing forward in their behalf, to 
the destruction of the Church and of yourselves ? 
Who ever heard anything so strange ? It will be 
proclaimed and published in every people and nation, 
that the suffragans of the Church of Canterbury, 
who should live and die with their metropolitan in 
defence of the Church and her liberty, and submit 
to any sacrifice for the same, are desirous, at the 
king's command, as much as in them lies, to suspend 
his power and authority, that he may not exercise 
the severity of discipline on those who offend against 
his Church. One thing I know full well : you cannot 
sustain the part of both sides, both of the appellant 
and of him against whom you appeal. You are the 
appellants, and the appeal is against yourselves. Is 
not the Church one, and are not you part of its body ? 
This is truly a Cadmaean conflict, that the members 
of the Church are waging against their head, which 
is Christ. I fear, my brethren, though God forbid 
that it should be so, lest they say of you, ' These are 
the priests, who have asked, where is the Lord ? and 
holding the law, have known me not ? ' Moreover, 
we believe that in your discretion you cannot be 
ignorant, that appellants are only heard when it is 
their own interest at stake, or they are deputed to 
maintain the cause of another. Is it to your interest 
that those who offend against the Church should 
not be restrained ? Surely not, but rather the 
contrary. But if the man who subverts the liberty 
of the Church, invades and seizes her goods and 


converts them to his own use, is not heard in his own 
defence when he appeals, surely those cannot be 
heard who appeal on his behalf. Neither our lord 
the king can derive support, nor you advantage 
from the appeal which you have made in his favour. 
If he can neither appeal, nor instruct another to do 
this in this cause, neither can you receive from him 
instructions to appeal for him. We add further, that 
you can in no way take up the matter for him in 
this cause. For no bishop can maintain the part 
of another against himself, particularly to the injury 
of the Church, of which he is the defender, and above 
all when the Church in general is assailed. If, there- 
fore, the appeal concerns you not, and you cannot 
undertake it by commission, nor defend the cause 
of another, your appeal cannot be heard, nor is it 
good in law. 

" Is this your devotion, is this the consolation and 
fraternal charity which you show to your metro- 
politan, who is suffering exile in your cause ? God 
forgive you for such a want of tenderness ! Are you 
ignorant, my brethren, what a great gulf is established 
to the destruction of the laws and canons between 
us, so that none of you can pass over to us without 
risking loss of life or mutilation of limb, though any 
one of us may, if he pleases, cross over to you ? We 
wonder, therefore, what order you preserve, when 
there is no order observed towards us as regards 
churches or ecclesiastical persons, but wrongs and a 
state of terror, such as, I pray, may not last for ever. 
Both ourselves and our adherents are plundered. 
Some of them have been redeemed, as well clerks as 
laics, that had been taken since our appeal made at 
Northampton, and your appeal against ourselves. 


Moreover, since that appeal, as you term it, a general 
edict has been issued, that all of us who are found 
on English ground shall be taken prisoners ; that 
none of you or of our other friends shall dare to 
receive our letters or our messengers. This then 
is the respect shown to an appeal, during the contin- 
uance of which, if it be a just appeal, no fresh step 
should be taken. Look ye to this. How can you 
expect us to receive your letters and messengers, or 
to listen to what they say ? But by this we do not 
mean, however we and ours may be dealt with, that 
we have ever done anything irregularly towards the 
person or the kingdom of our lord the king, or your 
persons and churches, or by God's mercy will we ever 
do so. 

" We had fancied, if you understood me rightly, 
that you would have shown your zeal for the Church, 
by blaming us for our too-long endurance, rather 
than by praising us for this delay of severity. For 
delay is dangerous : and too much patience is cen- 
surable rather than praiseworthy, having more of 
vice than virtue. Hence it is that we tell you in few 
words and affirm it unhesitatingly : our lord the king 
will have no reason to complain if, after being fre- 
quently and duly warned by our lord the Pope and 
us, both by letter and by messengers, his refusal to 
make amends should draw down upon him severe 
censures. He is not wronged whom justice duly 
punishes ; and to sum up all in few words, let it be 
clearly understood by you, that those who invade and 
plunder the possessions of the Church are protected 
by no plea of justice, nor can appeal in any way 
avail them. If, moreover, my brethren, you desire 
to be of use to the king, as is right of you, and as 


we also wish, God who is the searcher of hearts well 
knoweth, take heed to assist him in such a way as not 
to offend God, nor the Church, nor your own order ; 
to the end also that he may escape speedily and 
providentially from the danger to his own soul which 
is awaiting him. Thus much have I urged, if per- 
chance by the divine grace he may be advised by you 
to make amends to the Church : she will rejoice at 
the return of her son, for she has always been and still 
is ready to receive him with devotion and gratitude, 
and we, too, shall rejoice. 

" But you say that he is willing and ready to make 
amends to the Church by your judgment, if any 
contention has arisen between him and us concerning 
the liberties of the Church, of which there can be 
no doubt, for it is well known to all the world. This 
proposition of yours is unreasonable and contrary 
to justice : how then can we do wrong by not enter- 
taining it ? Is that a sufficient reason why we should 
not feel the Divine wrath for turning a deaf ear to 
canonical censure, and for adding injury to injury ? 
It is certain that you cannot act as judge between 
him and us. In the first place, you are his opponents, 
or you ought to be, in defence of the liberty of the 
Church, which is committed to your care : look to it 
if you neglect this duty, for hesitation will bring you 
into danger. In the next place, we nowhere read 
of superiors being judged by their inferiors, metro- 
politans by their suffragans. Thirdly, there are 
some among you whom the Church and we regard with 
suspicion ; I hope not all of you : the reasons for 
which are different, but for the present we forbear 
to mention them. 

" I pray, then, that our lord the king may listen 


to the petition of his faithful servant ; and not 
despise the counsels of his bishops, the admonitions 
of his father : so may God bless him, and prolong 
his days and the life of his sons for many years to 
come. May he permit his own Church to enjoy 
peace and liberty under him as under a most Christian 
king, whilst the Roman Church is suffered to exercise 
in his dominions the same jurisdiction and liberty 
which she has a right to, and which she possesses 
in other countries. Let him restore to us and to the 
Church of Canterbury the rights, liberties, and 
possessions which have been taken from us, in full 
security, that so we may serve God in peace and 
tranquillity, and he may employ our services as shall 
seem good to him, saving the honour of God, and of 
the Roman Church, and of our own order. Such are 
the royal dignities and good laws, which a Christian 
king ought to demand and to observe : in these he 
should take delight, and the Church flourish under 
him. Such laws as these are in accordance, not in 
opposition to the law of God, and he who observes 
them not, becomes an enemy to God ; for the law 
of God is pure, converting the soul. For the Lord 
says of his own laws, ' Keep my laws,' and the 
prophet says, ' Woe to those who establish unjust 
laws, and writing, write iniquity, that they may 
oppress the poor in judgment, and do violence to the 
cause of the humble ones of God's people.' 

" Let not our lord, then, be ashamed to return 
to a better state of feeling, to humble himself in 
humility and contrition of heart before the Lord, 
to make satisfaction to Him and to His Church for 
the injuries he has done it. For the Lord does not 
despise the humble and contrite heart, but embraces 


it in sincerity. Thus also holy David, after he had 
offended, humbled himself before the Lord, and asked 
for mercy, and obtained forgiveness. Thus also 
the king of Nineveh and all his city, when threatened 
with destruction, humbled themselves before the 
Lord in sackcloth and ashes, and by contrition of 
heart obtained a remission of their sentence. 

" We write thus to you, my brethren, not that you 
may be put to confusion, but that when you have 
read our letter and comprehended its import you may 
the more boldly and freely do what duty bids you. 
May you henceforth so act that we may the sooner 
have peace and the Church more ample liberty. 
Pray for us that our faith may not fail in tribulation, 
but that we say with the apostle, ' Neither death, nor 
life, nor angels, nor any other creature shall separate 
us from the love of God.' 

" Farewell, all of you in the Lord ; may the whole 
English Church remember us daily in their prayers." 
The mean- So ends the great letter which sums up, a veritable 
ing of this pamphlet, all that the archbishop could say on behalf 
of the position which he had conscientiously reached. 
It was a manifesto of the party, small indeed among 
the higher clergy and nobles, opposed to the measures 
of Henry II, behind which they seemed to see the grim 
figure of a lay power suppressing all personal and class 
liberty. It can only have been as viewed in this 
light that such an appeal won the sympathy of the 
people of England. And win that it certainly did ; 
for that Becket's popularity among the poor was not 
only that won by a demagogue or a thaumaturge 
is evidenced by the fact that the cause for which he 
had contended won, to all outward appearance, a 
triumphant victory after his death. 


It was a magnificent manifesto, but it was very Foliot's 
far from being unanswerable. And Gilbert Foliot, answer, 
bitter always and now goaded to fury, answered it 
in his sharpest vein of anger and reproach. His 
method of reply was to recall the whole of Becket's 
career. Charge after charge was levelled against 
him. He had bought the chancellorship. He had 
greedily sought the primacy, and he had been forced 
on the monks and the bishops by the threats of the 
king, forced by the sword of the lay power, that 
sword which he had himself plunged into the bosom 
of the Church when he had made her pay the huge 
donum for the war of Toulouse. At Clarendon it 
was he who was the deserter, he who deserted his 
brethren, ready to perjure himself for the peace : he 
who having given promise to the Constitution wherein 
he was forbidden to leave the realm yet fled : he who 
disobeyed the king's citation to do justice : he who 
refused to give account of the money he owed. " You 
say it is an unheard-of thing that an archbishop of 
Canterbury should answer to such things in the king's 
court ; and you may say that no one ever before 
heard of an officer of the king's court having so 
suddenly mounted to so high a dignity that he 
should one day be following his hounds and hawks, 
and the next be bending at the altar and ministering 
in sacred things before all the bishops of the realm." 

If by deceit the kind-hearted Pope was led to take 
his side, no arguments of his would induce those 
whom he had urged to suffer martyrdom when his 
own example was one of flight. The king only cared 
for the constitutions because they were his ancestors', 
and because he were shamed if he gave them up in 
answer to violence. Concession should come from 



him who was the Church's representative : then 
peace could be made with the religious and beloved 

It was a bold answer. Yet perhaps the bishops 
did protest too much : " our religious and gracious 
king " had hardly yet won its place into conventional 
usage in spite of a monarch's known characteristics. 

And it is only fair to observe that John of Salisbury 
when he read the letter did not hesitate to say that 
the bishop of London was a liar. He had been 
present himself at the election, he said, and he remem- 
bered that while Foliot was the only bishop who did 
not express pleasure at the nomination of Thomas 
he was one of the first to give his vote for him. 

Neither letter, to say the least, made for peace. 
And Becket would relax none of his claims to obe- 
dience. To Geoffrey Ridel he wrote in imperious 
terms commanding his attendance : did he remember 
how long he had been away from his own archbishop 
Theobald ? To the bishop of London he wrote 
repeating his orders. 1 

" We remember having ordered you to hold as 
excommunicate throughout your diocese, and to 
signify the same to your brethren, certain persons 
whom for their injuries towards the Holy See and the 
Church of Canterbury we formerly excommunicated. 
If you have faithfully discharged this order to the 
honour and advantage of the Church and your own 
salvation, we congratulate you for your fraternal 
obedience. But if not, we mourn for you, not on our 
account, but for the wrong done to the Pope and the 
Holy See. And may God avert from you the con- 
sequences of disobedience. For though the anger 

1 Materials, vi, 35. 


of the sovereign pontiff may be delayed, and his hand 
seem slow, yet the wound with which he punishes 
demerit never can be healed : and no one under the 
sun can save a man out of his hand. No one but an 
infidel, or what is worse, a heretic or schismatic, can 
refuse to obey his mandates. But we are addressing 
one who knows the law, as well as we, who has been 
nurtured in virtue, in religion, in obedience, and who 
needs no teaching. A man may cheat his own soul, 
but cannot cheat the word of God, which says, ' Woe 
to them who justify the wicked, and call good evil, 
and darkness light.' At present he is pronouncing 
that woe ! but will soon inflict it bitterly. He 
punishes the powerful, and exercises the severest 
judgments on those who neglect the duties of their 
rank, and refuse to warn the wicked of their wicked- 
ness. Hereafter he will crown in triumph those 
who faithfully obey, and meanwhile consoles those 
who strive against injustice. 

" We beg of you, therefore, and beseech you in the 
Lord Jesus, that whereas crimes have for our sins 
multiplied in the world, you do rise up to support the 
Church, and put forth the sword of the word, which 
is committed to us, to punish the evil and protect 
the good, that you may not be found to bear that 
sword in vain. If you shall see any remiss in doing 
right, animate and encourage them, and take to 
yourself what Christ, Who is now again crucified by 
the wicked, said in the moment of his passion, ' And 
thou, when thou art converted, strengthen thy 
brethren.' You will have us to aid you in liberating 
the Church, and in nothing that concerns God's 
honour will we fail to give you our support, as far as 
his mercy shall give us strength. But our lord the 



Pope will give you the aid that is required ; and he 
has already committed to us to be his representative 
in England, as you may perceive from the letters 
which we here forward to you. 

" We, therefore, command you, my brother, and 
in virtue of your obedience, and in peril of your 
orders, we enjoin you, on the authority of the Pope, 
to communicate these our letters to the fellow bishops 
of your province, and to the bishop of Durham, as 
speedily as possible, and afterwards to have them 
restored to us. 

" Moreover, by the same authority, and under 
the same perils, we command you to show due 
respect to the bearers, who are the accredited agents 
of our lord the Pope, and provide for their full 
security, as you wish regard to be shown to your own 

But for the present Foliot could safely afford to 
disregard the primate's injunctions. By his appeal 
he had prevented the issue of sentence against him 
till Ascension Day, 1167. And Henry was deter- 
mined to have vengeance. He now reinforced his 
drivenfrom threats by a message to the general chapter of the 
Pontigny. Cistercians held at Citeaux in September, 1166 ; and 
the abbat himself went to Pontigny to warn Becket 
of the consequences of his remaining still. 

In November the archbishop left Pontigny. If he 
could not tarry in Burgundy, Louis VII was eager to 
welcome him into his own land of France. The king 
rode along the valley and came to the Cistercian 
house, where he courteously thanked the monks for 
their kindness to the exile and declared that he 
would now take charge of him himself ; so says 
Gamier of Pont S. Maxence, who would very well 



know the story of his king's kindness. A letter of 
John of Poitiers suggests that the king was thinking 
to provide for the archbishop by the revenues of 
some vacant see : perhaps the idea of a translation 
had already seemed possible. 

As Thomas rode towards Sens he went sadly : His 
Herbert, his companion so often, tells that generally farewell 
he would talk much and brightly as he rode. The t( ? h the 
abbat of Pontigny, who rode beside him, asked him 
the reason of his sadness. It was, he said at length, 
reluctantly, a vision he had seen. He had seen 
himself in a church, pleading before the Pope, and 
opposed by cardinals in king Henry's interest ; then 
came four knights, who dragged him forth and slew 
him by cutting off the crown of his head where he 
was tonsured. It was not one of the dreams which 
fulfil themselves, but rather one which might well 
come to a man who often brooded on his fall. The 
abbat took it lightly. How should this come to one 
who eats and drinks ? 

(Non bene conveniunt nee in una sede morantur: 
the cup of wine which you drink and the cup of 

The archbishop bore the monastic rebuke meekly, 
for he answered that though he indulged in such 
pleasures of the body, yet " He Who justifieth the 
ungodly hath been gracious to me and revealed 
this mystery." 

At Sens, a city delightful for its situation, generous 
in its inhabitants, which fascinated Herbert of 
Bosham as it fascinates English travellers to-day, 
everyone was polite and gracious ; it was a town 
of good feeling and good company. And so the 
archbishop was made welcome. The archbishop 



Hugh was his old friend, and his successor (1168) 
William of Champagne, whose sister had married 
Louis VII, was as warm a supporter. Becket with- 
drew to the abbey of S. Colombe, on a bank of the 
Yonne to the south of the city. There he settled 
down again to the quiet regularity of monastic life. 

Henry's letters continued to reach the Pope and 
the cardinals. And thus they read : The alliance 
with the Emperor was not schismatic in intent : 
Becket had banished himself : the king will not suffer 
the dignities and usages of the realm to be diminished ; 
whosoever shall attempt to diminish them shall be 
held a public and avowed enemy. A turn of fortune 
was indeed placing Henry in the ascendant. In dread 
of the Emperor's army, which was making way in 
Italy, supported, as men said, by the rich English 
king's money ; influenced by the marquis of Mont- 
ferrat, whom Henry was bribing by a marriage treaty ; 
startled by the extremity of violence in which Becket 
seemed to indulge ; and anxious, like so many of his 
predecessors (and successors) to deal with his diffi- 
culties with the help of " my lady Mora," Alexander 
listened to the soothing words of Henry's envoy, 
John of Oxford, jurator, heard him swear that he had 
done nothing wrong at Wiirzburg, absolved him, 
confirmed him in his deanery, and finally suspended 
the effect of all the archbishop's acts and, after 
answering the appeal of the Clems Angliae on Decem- 
ber 1st, wrote to Henry on December 20th, announc- 
ing that he had appointed as a legatine commission 
Cardinals William of Pavia (whom Becket knew of 
old as hostile to him) and Otto of Ostia, with powers 
to judge and to absolve. To Becket 1 he explained 

1 Materials, vi, 123, 


his action with some timidity. " 5* non omnia 
secundum beneplacitum succedant ad praesens 
dissimule ! " was his advice. 

So ended the year 1166, and Becket seemed at 
the lowest point of fortune. 

It (38 16) 



BECKET might well feel alarm. The legates left 
Rome on January 1st. " One of them," he declared, 
" is weak and fickle " that was Otto : " the other 
treacherous and crafty : both are avaricious and 
unjust." John of Salisbury, more mildly, said that 
while William had the good opinion of the king, not 
the fear of God and the Church, before his eyes, the 
other was of good repute, " but still a Roman and a 
cardinal." John of Oxford had bribed the papal 
officials and procured copies of all the archbishop's 
letters ; he came home, says John of Salisbury, with 
apocalyptic vehemence, " exalting himself above all 
that is called God or is to be worshipped." Henry 
had " Pope and cardinals in his purse." Becket 
could hardly believe the news : " if it be true," he 
said, " the Pope has strangled the Church." 1 

There were still attempts at mediation, apart 
from the legation : they might at least gain time for 
a settlement to be matured ; so the old Empress 
Matilda (who had only a few more months of life) 
and Rotrou, archbishop of Rouen, were instructed 
by the Pope to intervene. Henry, says Rotrou, 
bore the intervention very restively. "It is well 
known how evilly he has wrought against me and 

1 Quae si vera sunt, tune procul dubio suflfocavit et 
strangulavit dominus papa non modo personam nostram 
sed et se et omnes ecclesiasticas personas utriusque regni, immo 
etiam utramque ecclesiam, tarn Gallicanam quam Anglicanam. 
Materials vi, 153. 



my kingdom ; how proud and rebellious, and sedi- 
tious against me he has been." So he spoke of 
Becket. It was not very hopeful. Remonstrances 
began to flow in to the unhappy Pope. Henry count 
of Troyes, and Matthew, praecentor of Sens, "Senon- 
ensis ecclesiae minimus," told him some home truths, 
and dissected the character of John of Oxford for 
his benefit. And Becket himself wrote thus * 

" We hereby send to your holiness the bearer of this Becket 's 
letter, who for his station in life is very intimate with protest, 
us, and, for his great talent, a man of fidelity and 
capacity. We pray your mercy to hear him in our 
behalf, for our miserable condition is become weari- 
some, perhaps even loathsome to our friends, and, as 
some tell us they imagine by your silence, a subject 
for contempt with your holiness. Even our enemies, 
cannot but look upon us with compassion. Rise, my 
lord, I pray you, and make no longer tarrying : let 
the light of your countenance shine upon us : save 
us and our wretched companions in exile, for we are 
perishing. Let us not be put to shame among men : 
our adversaries insult us and Christ's Church ; let us 
not be brought to contempt among the people, when 
we have invoked you by name, holy father, to watch 
over us, but, by the name of the Lord Jesus, earn for 
yourself a name for ever, and restore your endangered 
reputation ; depressed as it is in France by the return 
of that excommunicated and false schismatic John of 
Oxford, and the vaunts which he has promulgated. 
God knows that I am speaking the truth : if you do 
not believe me, ask those in France, who are most 
zealous of your honour, and most desirous to promote 
the advantage of the Church. Your reputation, I 

1 Materials vi, p. 154. Dr. Giles's Translation. 


say, is at stake ; your reputation which has hitherto 
passed without spot or blemish among mankind, and 
been preserved harmless through all dangers, when 
everything else has been polluted. Let your authority 
resume its force, and go forth, my father, so that that 
prate-apace may be confounded, and may acknow- 
ledge that he has spread what is false, promulgating 
lies. Let him feel your severity, for he has cut off 
all hope of forgiveness ; let him feel your vengeance, 
for he has disabused your kindness : let the world 
be told that he has found Christ's vicar founded 
on a rock not easy to be moved, that he is not a 
reed as the malignants whisper, but the upholder of 
equity and justice ; not an acceptor of persons, not a 
favourer of either party in his judgment, but a 
dispenser of justice equally to the king and 
to the peasant. God bless your holiness, that it 
may be well with us and our wretched companions 
in exile." 

He wrote also to "all the cardinals of the Roman 
Church " in words of no mild expostulation, " not in 
anger but in warning." l As effective, it may be, 
was a letter from Master Lombard of Piacenza, 
afterwards archbishop of Benevento and cardinal. It 
was certain, he said, that the king had only demanded 
legates out of subtilty ; he was determined never to 
give up his " dignities " ; he was in great fear of 
excommunication or interdict : his great hope was 
that the Pope would die. Canonists like Lombard 
had great influence. More impressive still were two 
letters from Louis VII, who told him that many were 
scandalized at his action. Louis, who was on the 
point of one of his small wars with the House of 

1 Materials, vi, 156 sqq. 


Anjou, was still to be reckoned with, whether as 
friend or foe. 

So Thomas, " by the grace of God archbishop of His stern 
Canterbury, and legate of the apostolic see," kept advice to 
up his courage, and again addressed himself to lot< 
" Gilbert, bishop of London would that he were 
brother that he may depart from evil and obey 
God rather than man." And thus he wrote 1 

" Though your aim, which has been all along to 
effect the downfall of the Church and of ourself, 
thereby excludes you from the communion of the 
faithful, and from the way of salvation ; yet in 
regard to your salvation, which, as God knows, we 
earnestly wish for, and considering that though Christ 
came to call not the righteous, but sinners to repent- 
ance, yet He rejects a feigned repentance, and judges 
of its sincerity by our deeds ; considering also that 
the tree is known by its fruits, we, therefore, for your 
disobedience and contumacy, to say nothing of the 
rest of your conduct, can no longer pass you over 
with impunity, though in charity we shall rejoice 
if even now you will repent and produce fruits 
worthy of repentance : we shall then no longer bear 
in mind the things which you have done to your 
prejudice, if your repentance is sincere, and your 
actions in uniformity therewith. We invite you 
to this with fatherly solicitude, we exhort you to look 
thoughtfully unto your ways, to deeds worthy of a 
bishop, that we may not be obliged, in administering 
punishment, to have recourse to severe measures. 
We command you, therefore, in virtue of your 
obedience, in peril of your rank and order, to send 

1 Materials, vi, 181. Dr. Giles's translation with 


back to us our lord the Pope's letters concerning our 
legateship, which we sent to you that you might 
show them to our brother bishops. 

" If you have so shown them, it is well ; but if not, 
know for a certainty that you will have to answer 
for having suppressed them. May God's mercy 
inspire into you a penitent heart. If you are wise 
in time, and hasten to make atonement, God will 
spare you, and speedily convert you." 

Such letters had no effect. Foliot remained 
determined in resistance. He waited, indeed, as was 
natural, to see what would happen when the legates 
arrived. Meanwhile John of Salisbury, ever as 
indefatigable in friendship as candid in criticism, 
was writing letter after letter to the notables of 
Europe, to counts and bishops, and to those in 
England who could reach the ears of the bishops. 
This letter to Reginald, archdeacon of Salisbury, 
the bishop of Salisbury's son, is characteristic l 
And to the " He must be an inhuman and impious man, who 
deacon of * s no * r i eve d at the affliction of his father, particularly 
Salisbury, when so many and great marks of fatherly kindness 
have been shown, as clear as daylight, towards the 
son. The Lord condemned the Canaanites to 
perpetual slavery, because their father, Ham, from 
whom they derived their name and race, behaved 
inhumanly towards his parent ; for an impious deed 
entails a taint upon the descendants of the doer. 
Thus, the hateful yoke of slavery was a warning to 
all men against such impiety. 

" I should consider myself as worse than any of 
the Canaanites, if I did not sympathize with my 
suffering parent, and feel in my soul the stripes which 
1 Materials, vi, 187. 


he receives, even more severely than the sore of my 
own wounds. My conscience is the best witness of 
this fact, and God Who searches the heart, and Who, 
sooner than was believed, will bring to light the hidden 
things of darkness, and make manifest the counsels 
oi the heart. We are now standing before His 
tribunal, and await His sentence in our cause, so that 
it is foolish and rash to lose by deviating from the 
truth the reward of all our labour, of all our life, if 
indeed our sufferings have been to our salvation, and 
our actions conformable to the rule of right. I have 
laboured with my lord of Canterbury, as he well 
knows, using language at one time palliative, at 
another time of rebuke ; but all my labour, I grieve 
to say, has been vain. It would be tedious, and 
indeed unnecessary, to state the objections which he 
makes to our arguments and entreaties, for master 
Gilbert, of whose fidelity to you I have no doubt, 
will hear all most fully from his own mouth. I call 
God to witness, and will answer for it with my life, 
that the archbishop sincerely loves the bishop, 
and desires that he should stand safe and unharmed. 
But he insists, that as he has given an example of 
disobedience to others, he shall now in his own 
person give an example of salutary and indispensable 
obedience. If the bishop will do this, for which he 
has the authority of Scripture, the advice of his 
friends, and the commands of the Pope, he will find 
the archbishop, whom he, perhaps, fears unneces- 
sarily, an affectionate father, and more prone to 
forgive than to punish. For you may well remember 
the rescript which the bishop of Coutances lately 
received from the holy see, and of which information 
was sent, or ought to have been sent, to you. You 


know also what consolation your own dean brought 
back from thence. If you do not know, I wish every 
thing which he did at Rome, in other causes as well 
as this, had been made known, not only to you, but 
to all the world. Moreover, if it were lawful to 
punish such things, we could easily state what has 
been done in the matter of the constitutions, about 
which the quarrel began between the king and the 
priesthood, the reconciliation of the archbishop, the 
liberties of the Church, and the restoration of the 
exiles. I could also tell of the oath which has been 
taken, and the articles of agreement between the 
parties. At present we have orders not to speak 
of these things, as long as there is hope that the 
parties will be as good as their word. But there is 
nothing hidden which shall not be made known, and 
that soon too by God's good pleasure. For the hour 
is at hand, when those who are detected in perjury 
shall be destroyed ; the time of visitation and of 
vengeance is approaching. Meanwhile, if my advice 
is asked, I answer before God, whom I invoke to 
witness the truth of my words as on the last day, I 
answer freely and fully, and with that faith which is 
due to my father : first, that we should study to 
follow the precepts of the divine law, but if that is 
silent, let us turn to the canons and precedents of 
the saints of old, and if there we find nothing to the 
point, we must explore the writings and receive the 
counsel of those who are wise in the fear of the Lord, 
and especially of those, whether few or many, who 
prefer God's honour to everything besides. For no 
one can walk safely, if he neglects the law of God, 
that unerring rule, which all should follow." 
He added a letter to the bishop and father, in a 


further attempt to pacify enmities. Everyone, it 
seemed, except irreconcilables like Becket and Foliot, 
was eager for peace. It remained to see what the 
legation would do to bring it. 

Thomas held on his way unmoved. He called 
upon his " venerable brother and dearest friend," 
Roger, bishop of Worcester, whom he had summoned 
to his side, repeating the order in virtue of obedience ; 
for himself he waited for the coming of the legates. 

Early in the spring Otto wrote from S. Gilles, in The coming 
Provence, prattling about his journey and the towns . of *|* 
he had seen on the way, and asking for an envoy to ugy. 
explain the archbishop's views ; the reply alluded 
to a hope (attributed politely to the Gallican Church) 
that he would come by clean and open ways. Events 
in Italy were not favourable, however, to the arch- 
bishop's hopes. Alexander was in great straits. 
The Emperor's army was advancing, and in the spring 
he had- to fly from Rome. Meanwhile the legates 
entered France with a bold face. William of Pavia 
wrote to Becket that he would be no respecter of 
persons. This then was written J 

" We have lately received your highness's letter, Becket 's 
wherein we are made to drink wormwood, ill concealed let . te f to 
by the honey of its beginning, or the oil of its con- 
elusion. You tell me that you have come down to 
these parts to decide the questions which lie between 
our lord the king and us, as shall seem to you most 
expedient. We do not believe that you are come 
for this, nor do we admit your intervention, for many 
reasons, which at a fitting time and place we will 
state. If, however, any good or chance of peace 
shall be brought about by your means, I thank God 

1 Materials, vi, 208. 


and you for it. May it be well with your eminence, 
so it may be better with us." 

The letter may well be read to show the temper 
of one of the chief combatants. Happily, milder 
counsels prevailed and the following letter was 
substituted for it * 

" Thanks to your excellency's kindness for the 
letter with which you have at last deigned to visit 
our insignificance. That insignificance derives its 
character in the minds of many from our present 
condition, not from the past ; and may be changed, 
if God pleases, into a much more bright and prosper- 
ous future. You say that whereas many think you 
have been engaged in various ways to our disadvan- 
tage, this has proceeded from your wish not to incur 
the suspicion of the king, or to cause him to become 
less zealous towards the Church and less disposed to 
make peace with us. God knows whether this is 
true, and the event will show. But whereas you say 
that you are come down into these parts to judge 
between us, as may seem to you best for the Church ; 
this certainly is not impossible. We believe, how- 
ever, that we know well what you are come for, and 
what we have to suspect at your hands. We wish 
to exhort your discretion in the Lord, to conduct 
yourself in this business to the honour of God, the 
re-establishment of the Church, and your own credit 
among the people. If any good or chance of peace 
shall result by your means, we thank God and you 
for it. We earnestly hope that you will consider 
what burdens the English Church and we have 
endured and are still enduring, and how the same 
suffering extends from us to the Church at large. The 

1 Materials, vi, 209. 


eyes of all men are directed to this matter, and they 
are waiting to see the end, in what way the pride of 
kings will plume itself in triumph, or bear up under 
defeat. We pray God that it may suffer defeat, 
and not gain a victory by your intervention. Fare 
may it be well with you, and may it for ever be well 
with you, that it may be better with us also and the 

Even this letter was not approved by John of 
Salisbury : " nee prior nee posterior mihi placet 
conceptio litterarum quas ad dotninum Willelmum 
mittere decrevistis, qua nimis plenae videntur 
suspicionibus et supra modum dentosis salibus abun- 
dare." It seems probable that neither of them 
was sent. John of Salisbury himself wrote in a 
conciliatory way to William of Pavia, and Becket 
contented himself with some very sharp words to the 
Pope. It does not seem that he knew that on June 
17th Alexander had been guilty of what he would 
regard as unparalleled treachery. He had granted The Pope's 
to Roger of York authority, at the request of " our 
dearest son Henry, the illustrious king of the English," 
to crown the king's son, an open affront to the 
immemorial privileges of the see of Canterbury. 

But events had moved rapidly. On August 1st 
Frederic I had been crowned, and the anti-pope, 
Paschal III, had been enthroned in S. Peter's. Within 
the month the plague had broken out among the 
German troops, Reginald of Koln was dead, and 
several chiefs of the army, and the troops were in 
flight. Some of this was known to Becket when he 
wrote as follows 1 

" To his much loved lord and most holy father, 

1 Materials, vi, 227. (In part paraphrased.) 


Alexander, by the grace of God supreme pontiff, 
Thomas, the humble minister of the Church of 
Canterbury, a wretched and miserable exile, health 
and an ever constant mind against the fierceness of 

" In our solicitude for your health and well-being, 
we hoped that we had certain intelligence about you 
and your brethren, and the marvellous doings of the 
Lord toward yourself and his Church. For the news 
reached our ears, and spread through all Gaul, of the 
humiliation with which God has lately visited the 
schismatical Frederick, in sight of his people and 
nation. But since reports are both right and wrong, 
we earnestly entreat your fatherly goodness to com- 
municate to us by letters and messengers the glad 
tidings, as soon as possible, if God has done towards 
you as He generally does towards those who trust in 
Him, and do not place their reliance on a frail arm 
of flesh, or in the deceitful aid of princes. If the 
event is really as it is reported, blessed be God, who 
knows how to deal mercifully with his servants. How 
great is his power, how boundless his mercies ! Unless 
He keep the city, he that guards it watches in vain. 
If we only view rightly what has happened, God has 
never wrought a more signal act of mercy since time 
began. He has justified his justice, by crushing the 
contrivers of this wickedness, the authors of this 
persecution : He has consumed them by a most 
signal destruction. I pray also that He may have 
consigned that prince himself whilst still living to 
perpetual infamy before all the people, so that he 
may be a derision to every passer-by, and that every- 
one's finger may point at him, whilst they say, ' Look, 
there is he who did not make the Lord his helper ! 


He trusted in his own power, and has fallen in his 
vanity. Better would it have been, if he had died 
gloriously fighting against his foes, than to have lived, 
and so become the laughing-stock of all men.' Who 
then that is Christ's vicegerent on earth, will dare to 
be servile towards princes, and to spare those who sin 
to the confusion of the Church ? Let him who dares 
do this, not I, lest the sin of the offender be trans- 
ferred to my own shoulders, lest I become guilty of 
dissembling guilt, though I have done nothing guilty. 
But on this subject I have said enough to my lord. 
Whosoever wisely examines the works of God will 
speedily discover what is next to be done. 

" In the second place, we wish to inform your holi- 
ness that our fears have been realized respecting the 
presumption and arrogance of my lord William of 
Pavia, as you may see by his letters, which he ad- 
dressed to us on his first arrival. From the tenour of 
your holiness's letters to the king of the Franks and 
to us, we had hoped to receive consolation and peace, 
and not confusion, from his mediation between the 
king of England and us. For he is not the man to 
whose arbitration we ought to bow in this matter : 
particularly when it was the urgency of the king of 
England which induced you to send him, rather than 
your own bidding. We hold it inconsistent with 
justice to abide the judgment of any man who seeks 
to make a profit out of our blood, and hopes to obtain 
reputation and glory from the price of iniquity. We 
therefore affectionately entreat your fatherly good- 
ness, if you have any regard for us, that the power of 
this man, if he has any over us and ours, may, by your 
interference, be revoked. Let this hammer be 
removed who chooseth rather to be the hammerer of 


clerks, x in compliance with the will of princes, rather 
than of princes, in accordance with the will of God. 
On all these points, and others which the bearer will 
inform you of, we pray you in compassion for our 
exile to hear us. Have mercy upon our protracted 
miseries, for all mankind are now looking to see them 
ended. Let your authority resume its force, and the 
sword of S. Peter be unsheathed, to avenge the 
injuries of Christ and of His Church. Let those who 
have for a while dissembled, and despised the aveng- 
ing hands of S. Peter, feel at last their weight, that 
so the Church's liberties may have time to breathe, 
after their long depression, and that the world may 
rejoice and glorify God for his mercies towards you, 
that so the bark of S. Peter, which all thought was 
sunk, may, by your means, ride triumphant, and the 
presumption of kings be beaten down, which all 
thought had been successful. I should have had 
much to say to your holiness of this subject, but to 
avoid prolixity, I here make an end, hoping to hear 
from you what my soul longeth after. One thing, 
however, I will add, which must not be passed over 
in silence. My lord William, and his friend the 
king, thought, perhaps, by protracting the time, to 
have eluded your authority by some casualty or 
other. But God will, I hope, cause all casualties to 
turn out for good, and so he who thought to delude 
you, will himself be deluded, and, by God's mercy, 
fall into the snare which he laid for you. May your 
holiness fare well, and be preserved for long years, 
that it may be well with all of us." 

1 " Transferatur malleus iste a nobis qui potius elegit 
esse malleator clericorum, etc." It is amusing to find in 
this cardinal the forerunner of the English "malleus 


Matters were by now looking better for Becket. Meeting 
Two letters of Alexander, who had now good hopes |* ith the 
of recovering his position, made it clear to the legates November 
that they had no complete power to settle the ques- i8th, 1167. 
tion. 1 Frederick in September retreated to Pa via, 
where he remained till March, 1168. Still the whole 
business dragged on week by week and it was not 
till November 18th, the octave of S. Martin, that the 
archbishop met the legates on the frontier, at the 
edge of the Norman plain, between Gisors and Trie, 
by the famous tree of conference whose cutting down 
forms an important incident in the chronicles of 
Henry IPs day. 

Becket himself went warned, it was said, by 
visions. Herbert tells that he had seen poison 
offered to him in a cup of gold ; Gamier, that from 
the cup there crept out two spiders, which he ex- 
plained after the manner of Joseph, the cup as the 
king's proposals, the wine that was stirred as the 
deceitfulness of Henry, and the two large spiders 
as the two cardinals. 

The conference failed on the simple ground that 
the archbishop demanded as a preliminary the 
restoration of the property of his see. He wrote his 
own account of what was said to the Pope. 2 Perhaps 
John of Salisbury's, written in all probability to 
John, bishop of Poitiers, gives a less prejudiced 
view. 3 

1 Materials, vi, pp. 200 and 232 : the former written on 
May 7th, the latter on August 22nd. 

8 Materials, vi, 245. 

8 Ibid., 256. R. H. Froude took it to be by Jocelin of 
Exeter. It is found in seven sources and is headed " Amicus 
amico. Verba domini Cantuariensis cum legatis inter Gisortium 
et Triam." 


" I do not doubt that you are anxious about the 
state of the Church and the issue of the legatine 
commission. I therefore write to inform you thereof 
briefly, and to give you and other pious friends as 
much consolation as is in my power. You must 
know, then, that our lord of Canterbury and certain 
of his fellow exiles had a speech with the cardinals 
on the octave of the blessed Martin, between Gisors 
and Trie. The legates said much about the kindness 
of the lord Pope, and the solicitude with which he 
regards us, about their own labours, and the dangers 
of their journey ; about the king's greatness and 
the exigencies of the Church ; about the badness of 
the times, about the favours the king had formerly 
bestowed on his lordship of Canterbury, and the 
honour he had always rendered him ; something too 
they added, about the injuries the king complained 
of receiving from his lordship, intimating among 
other things that he had instigated the king of the 
Franks to war. Finally, they wished to devise some 
means for allaying the existing indignation, which 
they said could not be effected but with much 
humility, moderation, and deference. 

" His lordship of Canterbury, in all humility and 
sweetness, expressed his sense of their kindness, 
and that of his holiness the Pope ; and proceeded to 
show the futility of the king's complaints, and the 
extent of the Church's sufferings. As to the humility 
and deference which they recommended, he was most 
anxious to exhibit it in every possible way, saving 
only the honour of God, and the liberty of the Church, 
and the dignity of his own person and the possessions 
of the Church. If this seemed too little, or too much, 
or in any way different from their view, he was ready 


to make any compliance consistent with his oaths, 
and saving his order. 

"They answered, that they were not sent to advise, 
but to consult him, and, if possible, to contrive some 
terms of reconciliation ; and proceeded to enquire 
whether, in the presence of the legates, he would 
pledge himself to observe the usages which had been 
observed towards former kings by his predecessors ; and 
thus to return to the king's favour, and to the duties 
of his see, and to procure peace for himself and his. 

" The archbishop replied, that no king had ever 
exacted such a pledge from any of his predecessors, 
nor would he, by God's grace, pledge himself to 
observe usages manifestly opposed to the law of God 
and the rights of the apostolic see, and destructive 
of the Church's liberty. That these usages had been 
condemned in the presence of the legates themselves, 
and of many others, by the Pope at Sens ; and that 
some of them had been anathematized, with other 
observers, by himself, on the Pope's authority for 
which proceedings there were many precedents. 

" He was asked if, though he could not confirm, 
he would at any rate promise to overlook and tolerate 
them, or, without making any mention of them one 
way or another to return to his see in peace. He 
answered with the proverb of our nation, that in such 
a case ' silence is consent.' For that, if at any time 
when the usages are actually enforced, and the 
Church is submitting under compulsion, all collision 
was to cease, and the subject was to be dropped, under 
the sanction of the legates ; this would be a positive 
acknowledgment of the king's claims. He added, 
too, that he would endure exile and proscription 
for ever, and, if it pleased God, death in a just 

13 (2216) 


cause, rather than buy peace at the cost of his own 
salvation, and of the liberty of the Church. After 
this the schedule of these abominations was read 
over, and the cardinals were asked whether they 
were such as any Christian could observe much less 
a shepherd of Christ's flock. 

" They proceeded to another question, asking 
whether he would abide by their judgment as to the 
matters between himself and the king. He said 
that he relied on the goodness of his cause ; and that 
whenever himself and his should be restored to their 
possessions which had been confiscated, he would 
readily let the law take its course, and had neither 
the power nor the will to decline the arbitration, 
either of their lordships, or of any others whom his 
holiness the Pope should appoint in such time, place, 
and manner as should be right. But that, in the 
meantime, neither he nor his could be required to 
enter on litigation, nor indeed had they means where- 
with to do so : for that they depended, even for their 
daily bread, on the munificence of his most Christian 

" He was then asked whether he would consent 
to their hearing evidence on the appeal of the bishops, 
for that the appellants were ready. The archbishop, 
remembering the circumstances under which the 
pretended appeal had been notified to him, and that 
it had been conceived in the name of all the bishops, 
abbats, and dignitaries of his province, whereas he 
well knew that they had not been assembled at 
Rouen, and indeed that most of them had known 
nothing of it, while of those who did, many dis- 
approved it as being rather an evasion than an 
appeal ; answered, that he had received no 


instructions from the Pope upon the subject, but that 
on receiving them, he would return such an answer as 
he might judge reasonable. Finally, that the 
poverty of himself and his friends disabled them from 
undertaking lawsuits and expensive journeys nor 
would he consent to encroach on the bounty of his 
most Christian majesty, by asking him to maintain 
them in hired houses." 

John adds how the matter appeared to Louis VII. 
" The day following, the most Christian king 
admitted the legates to an interview, and, with the 
ceremony of an oath, asserted the innocence of his 
lordship of Canterbury, protesting that he had always 
counselled peace on such terms as should secure the 
honour of the two kings, and the tranquillity of their 

" The archbishop requested the legates to favour 
him with their advice, and to point out any line 
of conduct which they might judge to be for the 
interest of the Church. They expressed their con- 
fidence in his zeal, and compassion for his sufferings, 
and thought his present line of conduct could not be 
altered for the better. On this they parted with 
mutual expressions of good will." 

Then the legates went on to the English king. Their 
They found him at Argentan on November 25th, interv 
1167. Hardly pleased could he be, and after two Henry II. 
hours' talk he sent them away so hastily that they 
had to take any horses they could find ; and Henry 
said aloud so that they might hear, " I trust to God 
I may never set eyes on a cardinal again." 1 

1 The account of this interview is from a letter to Becket 
from a friend. Canon Robertson has not got the date right. 
Materials, v, 269. 


That was the first interview ; a second followed 
next day, and on the vigil of S. Andrew the king 
went off hawking early in the morning so as to avoid 
seeing them, and the bishop of London took his place 
as chief spokesman. The king, he said, was quite 
ready to agree to the cardinals' decision ; it was the 
archbishop who was the obstacle, with his hasty way 
of striking, and excommunicating people without 
notice. The king wanted his 44,000 marks of silver 
for which the chancellor had never given account. 
Foliot's Then, after the manner of some clergymen's merri- 

jocularity. ment, of which Dr. Johnson has given the immortal 
designation, he must needs say in a mighty jocular 
way that Becket thought consecration washed away 
debts as baptism did sins. And he himself, Gilbert 
of London, had weighty grievances, too, against the 
archbishop. So everybody appealed to Rome. 

And so the legates must depart, in an atmosphere 
of crocodiles' tears, and Henry begged humbly that 
they would get the Pope to rid him of Becket alto- 
gether, and " he shed tears in the presence of the 
cardinals and others." William of Pavia joined in 
the weeping, but Otto, good man, could hardly 
conceal his mirth. And the correspondent ends with 
the information that Otto will never consent to the 
archbishop's deposition, and the king wants nothing 
but the archbishop's head in a charger. 

The failure Becket, confronted with new appeals, and no nearer 
of the to the crossing of the channel than before, could 
legation. n( j re ji e f on iy j n vei y candid expressions of opinion. 
The legates had told the Pope, and told the arch- 
bishop, what they had done and failed to do ; they 
had announced the appeal of the bishops, and had 
forbidden him to issue excommunication or interdict. 


To the Pope and to William of Pavia then, he wrote 

To the Pope, with the now familiar superscription 
of " miser ac miser abilis exsul." 1 

" We send to your holiness our faithful clerks the 
bearers of these letters, two of our wretched fellow- 
exiles, to inform you what has happened to us in 
these latter days, and to tell you of our misery and our 
anguish, which is immense. May your holiness grant 
to us at length that long-hoped and long-delayed 
release from the oppressions to which ourself and our 
Church are exposed. Hold out the right hand of 
compassion and raise us up, lest we faint beneath 
tribulation more severe than was ever before felt 
since tribulation first began. We have been drawn 
along, as your excellency well knows, no less cruelly 
than unjustly, from one season to another, so that 
our soul sinks under its sufferings ; we are worn out 
and almost ground beneath the weight of our miseries, 
and what is worse, your apostolical authority is 
meanwhile departing, which, by God's mercy, should 
have lifted us up out of our anguish before we were 
entirely spent. Incline thine ear then, my lord, and 
hear us ; let thy eyes look upon me, and behold if 
there ever was wickedness like this, if there ever was 
grief like mine : we are given over to be plundered, 
unless God's mercy, by your hand, visit us. We are 
become a derision to those who are round about us, by 
the authority of your legates, who have acted no less 
wickedly than presumptuously towards us and the 
Church. If they have done so to us in the green 
wood, what will they do in the dry ; what will they 
do if their legation lasts, which I wish had never been 

1 Materials, vi, 293. 


granted ? They have suspended us, as far as in them 
lay, from all the authority which we have possessed 
over the English Church. This never could have 
been done by you towards me at any prince's or other 
man's bidding, nor shall it now, by God's mercy, be 
done, as your highness has most surely promised us. 
Why, my lord, have you given the legation to that 
man ? My lord should have considered, if he will 
allow me so to speak, what else could be expected 
from one, whose whole soul has been poured out to 
sacrifice the dignities of the Church, if he can but 
gain the king's favour ? My lord, my lord, it is 
to you that we look to save us from perishing. Help 
us, my lord, and fulfil the promises, which I hope 
did not exhilarate our hearts in vain. We waited, 
as your highness bade us, we waited for peace and 
it came not. We waited for good at the hands of 
your legates, and behold greater affliction and more 
intense tribulation. Pity us, O lord Pope, pity us, for 
there is no one next to God who will fight for us but 
you and your faithful ones. Pity us, that God may 
pity you at the last judgment, when you shall render 
an account of your stewardship. You are, next to 
God, our only refuge : for even those who out of 
respect for the holy Roman Church ought to have 
stood by us and fought for us, set themselves against 
us, that they may gain the favour of men. We have 
exhausted our means, and have endured vexation 
upon vexation, nor have we strength left us to endure 
the least of their annoyances. We pray your highness 
then to aid us and the Church, and check this wicked- 
ness, whilst there is still time. We can scarcely 
breathe for our anguish ; hasten then to bestow your 
grace upon us, before we perish. May your 


excellency's life, which next to God's love is so dear to 
us, be long spared, to bestow upon us your munificence, 
and recall us from the gates of death. Be it known 
to your discretion, that three days before these evils 
came upon us, our messenger set out for your court, 
bearing our letters, in which we told you we had parted 
from your legates. The king and queen of the 
Franks, and some of the princes and bishops of his 
kingdom, together with some other more humble 
friends of yours, wrote to you, giving thanks to God 
and to you, that the lies of John of Oxford and the 
other ambassadors of the king, about our downfall and 
deposition, were at last refuted by the arrival of your 
legates. For it was felt as a scandal by all in the 
realm of the Franks, and by all everywhere, among 
whom that report was spread, except among the 
adversaries of the Church and ourself. But now our 
harp is turned to mourning, our joy to sadness, and 
the last error is worse than the first. We pray you, 
therefore, to apply a speedy remedy to the approach- 
ing evils that the truth may be manifest to all, how 
these things have been done without your knowledge 
or commands." 

To William of Pavia the tone was very different 
and the matter very direct x 

" I did not think that I was to be set up for sale 
to the buyers, or that you would make gain of my 
blood, and procure out of the price of iniquity a name 
and reputation for yourself. You would have looked 
for another field wherein to reap your harvest, if you 
had not been perilously forgetful of your station, and 
weighed the sports of fortune in a very different 
balance from mine. You were encouraged, perhaps, 

1 Materials, vi. 296. 


to do so by the contemplation of my humbled con- 
dition ; you beheld my adversity, but you should 
have looked forwards to greater prosperity hereafter. 
The vicissitudes of things are great, and as the fall 
from success and triumph is easy, so may we also 
rise again. I cannot believe your prudence to be 
ignorant, though you have yet had no personal ex- 
perience of the truth, that there is so firm that it has 
not danger lurking near it ; nothing humble which 
good fortune may not shine on ! I write thus, that 
you may for the future more carefully consider 
these changes of fortune ; observe them when 
considered, and when you have considered, be 
indulgent. The vessel of S. Peter ought not to have 
been exposed to these storms ; though she cannot 
be crushed, she may yet be shaken ; she cannot sink, 
but will float again, however the waves may toss her. 
If then you wish to be a true disciple and good sea- 
man of that Pilot and true fisher of men, as you have 
often felt the favouring breezes of prosperity, so 
should you present yourself with courage under 
every danger to meet the frowns of adversity. If you 
have received good from the hand of fortune, shall 
you not receive evil also, evil which perhaps will 
endure but for a moment ? Thus our master, 
Peter, the chief of the apostles, not by yielding, but 
by resisting kings and disturbing the peace of the 
wicked, gained for himself by martyrdom a name 
on earth and glory in heaven. In this way has the 
Church gained strength and renewed vigour, when it 
was thought that she was annihilated. In short, this 
is what I wish you to do ; so act here that you may 
live in the Lord. Farewell, that thence I, too, may 
fare better!" 


That was the end of the legation : the legates 
returned whence they came, and no one was the better 
for their coming. They were, as John of Salisbury 
had said of one of them, Romans and cardinals. 



Renewed WHEN the failure of the legation was clear, five 
appeals. English bishops renewed their appeal against the 
action they feared on the part of their primate. Thus 
what amounted to practically a whole year's delay 
was secured. Various candid advisers wrote much 
candid and contradictory advice to the Pope. Becket 
continued his endeavours to rule his province from 
Sens; for example, rebuking Geoffrey of Monmouth, 
bishop of S. Asaph, not for his literary performances 
as moderns might but for his absence from his diocese 
and his interference with the diocese of others. 

But difficulties were arising about the Church 
property which had been seized, and the exiled arch- 
bishop was by no means satisfied with the action of 
the legates in absolving some of those who still held 
ill-gotten gains. He wrote sharply to his agents with 
the Pope on the point and in the same letter he 
alluded to a project by which it had been suggested 
that he should be sent off to Sicily, by exchange with 
some prelate more amenable to royal reason, in these 
words 1 

" In addition to the above, we have been told by 
somebody, that according to what William of Pavia 
hinted to the king, and perhaps to others, his majesty 
would never have adhered so strongly to the scheme 
of our translation, if he had not foreseen that it 
would be agreeable to the Pope. But we would have 

1 Materials, vi, 316. 



our lord the Pope and our other friends to know, 
and I request you to impress it firmly and constantly 
upon them, that we would suffer ourself to be put to 
death, as God, who is the searcher of hearts, well 
knows, rather than to be torn away alive from our 
mother, the Church of Canterbury, that has nursed 
us, and exalted us to our present state. Their at- 
tempts, therefore, are of no use, for such is the 
settled purpose of our mind. You may say, more- 
over, that if there were no other cause than the 
spoliation of our Church and of other churches in the 
land, by the hand of that man, we would rather, God 
knows, die any kind of death, than live to dishonour, 
or that he should escape without receiving from us 
the punishment, which, unless he repent, will be 
his due." 

Meanwhile the Pope was still endeavouring to 

... * ... TT 

avoid an entire breach with Henry, and on the return 

of his legates he wrote to the king a pacifying letter. x 
He had seen Henry's envoys who included the 
archbishop's old enemy, Clarembald, abbat of 
S. Augustine's. The date of the letter is probably 
May, 1 168. It announces that the Pope has forbidden 
the archbishop to put out any sentence of excom- 
munication against the king or nobles of England, 
had this order reached Becket ? and that this 
letter should be a sufficient exemption if such censure 
should be issued. Henry had found the Pope and his 
legates to speak with different voices : he should 
remember that S. Paul had frequently changed his 
mind not that Alexander can remember having 
changed his. But if he has shown any alteration 
it is not to be attributed to fickleness and it must 
1 Materials, vi, 377. 


be remembered as regards popes " that we are men 
and liable in many things to be deceived and 

A letter from Becket to the Pope, a little later, is a 
curious commentary on the Pope's optimism and 
hesitation x 

" We send back to your holiness the bearer of 
these presents, who will faithfully and accurately ex- 
plain to you the unfortunate nature of his business, 
and how he and his brothers have been dealt with in 
England in consequence of your letters. Unless the 
Divine clemency stretch forth its hand to raise them 
up by your agency, it is all over with the fortunes of 
their order. May it please you then to let him and 
his brothers experience the benefit of our intercession, 
for the unjust vexations which they have suffered, 
render them fitting objects of your commiseration. 
And I pray you, my lord, to consider attentively into 
what irremediable confusion the English Church has 
been thrown, and what evils have resulted to every 
class of persons living in that kingdom, from that 
pernicious indulgence which the king boasts he has 
obtained i| the court, by the intervention of certain 
of his friends, who show more regard to princes than 
to their God. Though this indulgence may easily be 
revoked, yet the pernicious precedent has been set, and 
will encourage his successors to similar acts of daring, 
from a certainty of being able, by some means or 
other, to escape punishment. 

" We have one miserable source of consolation in 
all this, if you will allow me to say so : that the Roman 
Church takes this mode of rewarding its friends and 
faithful children. May God comfort her better than 

1 Materials, vi, 398. 


she provides for herself : may he comfort the Church 
of England and us, and all our wretched ones. I know 
what grieves me most : it is this ; that crime can 
never be blotted out or become obsolete by time : 
there is no forgetfulness for sin, but evil deeds become 
at last evil examples. May your holiness farewell and 
flourish : quickly, if it pleases you, relieve our misery, 
that we may at least live, whereas at present our life 
is but a death, and God knows how undeservedly ! " 

Throughout these months the affairs of Becket were Th e king's 
complicated by the Pope's difficulties, by the hostility political 
between Henry and Louis, and by many political difficulties ' 
embarrassments throughout Europe. The letters of 
John of Salisbury, vivaciously describing events and 
retailing conversations, throw curious and amusing 
light on many an ecclesiastical and political passage 
of arms. Insurrection in Poitou and in Normandy, 
continual disturbance on the frontiers, the death of 
great English nobles such as Robert of Leicester, 
who had attempted to deliver the barons' sentence 
at Northampton, and whose refusal to communicate 
with Reginald of Koln had preserved the king from 
the open error of accepting the anti-pope, and Patrick, 
earl of Salisbury, killed by the Poitevins, made Henry 
feel that dangers were surrounding him more and 
more closely and he was almost isolated in resistance. 
He talked of going to Jerusalem on a pilgrimage, but 
people had learned to distrust him. So the months 
dragged on ; and as for the way money was spent 
at the papal court and the way in which every sort of 
influence was used to terrify the Pope, why, in John 
of Salisbury's words, " haec in ecclesiae Romanae 
scribentur annalibus." On May 19th, 1168, the 
Pope wrote to Becket from Benevento, expressing 



his fear lest Henry should ally with the Emperor, and 
therefore forbidding him to issue any censures. After 
this there was no peace for the Pope at Benevento : 
" the threshold of the Apostles was worn by our 
messengers and by our enemies," says Herbert of 
Bosham. And meanwhile, as Thomas wrote to 
Conrad, archbishop of Mainz, " The king boasts of 
our suspensions as with the voice of a herald in both 
kingdoms, and declares that the time which is allowed 
to him to receive me back to his grace is the Greek 
Kalends," and John of Salisbury told Master Lombard 
of a similar boast that Henry knew everything that 
happened at the papal court and could circumvent 
every move of the exiles. And Alexander continued 
to write pacifying letters. 1 

A new legation had been appointed in May, 1168 : 
it consisted of Simon, prior of Mont-Dieu, Engelbert, 
prior of Val S. Pierre, and Bernard de la Coudre, 
monk of Grammont, the last of whom was by his rule 
forbidden to use pen and ink. It was a long time 
before they were able to act. The two former wrote 
to the Pope at the beginning of 1169, when they had 
at length had a meeting with both the kings, for they 
were to combine in an attempt at a political reconcilia- 
tion with their efforts for the restoration of Becket. 
On the feast of the Epiphany the meeting took place 
at Montmirail in Maine. Peace was made between 
the two kings, homage being done to Louis by the 
English king's sons, Henry and Richard. 

By the advice of all his friends Thomas attended 
the meeting. Long was the discussion, and at last 
the advisers thought that they had induced him to omit 
the phrase " saving our order," or that alternative 

1 e.g., Materials, vi, 484. 



to which he now clung, " saving God's honquj/' 
Herbert of Bosham tells the story with vivid particu- 
larity. Henry and Louis were sitting together, 
waiting to see what should happen. Herbert edged 
through the crowd and whispered in the archbishop's 
ear a warning not to suppress the words. " He turned 
and looked me in the face, but could not answer, for 
the crowd that was about him, seeking to have speech 
with him ; and so he was brought into the presence 
of the kings." With him went William, archbishop 
of Sens. 

He flung himself at the king's feet and said he 
placed himself at his mercy and at God's, for God's 
honour and the king's honour. Henry at once burst 
out into rage, denounced him for his flight. " I ask 
for nothing," he said, " but that he should keep those 
customs which his five predecessors kept, themselves 
saints some of them and workers of miracles." 
Becket answered that he had sworn fealty saving his 
order, and would never depart from his oath : no 
more had been asked from his predecessors, nor would 
he give more. A few minutes afterwards, when he 
was further pressed, he said that though none of his 
predecessors had done so and he was not bound to 
do it, yet for the sake of the Church's peace and the 
king's favour he would promise to keep those customs 
which had been kept by his predecessors, saving his 
order. " Never will I allow that phrase," said Henry ; 
and so they parted in anger. 

Becket was beset by advisers all urging him to 
yield, till night fell and the kings rode away, Henry 
swearing that he would be avenged. Hardly one of 
the archbishop's own men supported him now. 
When a horse stumbled, as they rode, one of them, 



Henry of Houghton, called out, " Get up, saving the 
honour of God, and of Holy Church, and of my 
order." It was some time before the archbishop 
replied to the taunt : then he said he would accept 
the best terms he could get, yet the liberty of the 
Church, of which the king said nought, was far more 
important than the return and restoration of the 

As they went back to Sens through Chartres, where 
before long the exquisite sculpture of the splendid 
Gothic of Northern France in the thirteenth century 
was to represent him among the martyrs on the south 
porch of the cathedral church, 1 the people pointed at 
him and cried out " Here is the archbishop who in 
yesterday's conference would not deny God for the 
sake of kings or be silent as to His honour," and 
Becket was troubled and full of compunction. 2 No 
man, indeed, found it more difficult to know what 
he should do now to do right than he ; only that 
bold scribe who flaunted his cloak of Auxerre before 
Henry was ever at his side to urge him to be firm. 
Old friends such as John of Poitiers urged concessions, 
and he indeed came to Becket at tampes on Henry's 
behalf and endeavoured to arrange a meeting at 

Tours, where Henry might stay in the city and the 

1 The sculpture is an interesting one. " II est agenouille 
au pied de 1'autel de sa cathedrale. Les assassins vont le 
frapper de leurs epees ; 1'imagier n'avait de place que pour 
en figurer deux. Ils ont un costume absolument semblable 
a celui de saint Theodore sur I'embrasement. Leur tfite est 
coiffee du capuchon en mailles de fer, ce qui leur donne un 
air etrange. Le saint baisse la tSte pour recevoir le coup 
mortel. II est devant un autel muni d'une nappe plissee 
avec soin, une calice est sur 1'autel." Bulteau, Monographie 
de la Cathedrale de Chartres. 2nd ed., 1887, p. 362. 

1 Herbert of Bosham, Materials, iii, 436-7. 


archbishop safely in the great abbey of Marmoutier. 
But he had gone farther than Becket warranted, in 
making this proposal : he had represented the exile 
as willing to trust himself entirely to the king, " as 
a Christian prince to provide for the Church's honour 
and his own." An answer from the archbishop left 
no hope that he would consent to use such words x 

" Dearest friend, why have you dealt with me 
thus ? Why have you strangled both me and 
yourself ? You have given that man a handle for 
disparaging both of us and of maligning me. The 
animal is greedy of glory, and already too prone 
to destroy the Church ; and now he will have it 
published in the streets and proclaimed in the face 
of the Church, that we have yielded unconditionally 
to his wishes, without mentioning God's honour or 
our own order, though it is less than ever proper 
to pass these over, when by doing so we bring confu- 
sion and ignominy on the Church, which is clear and 
manifest apostasy. 

^ " If you will only recollect yourself, we parted at 
Etampes on a very different understanding from this. 
When we took leave of one another, I told you to 
insist on this condition only, that the man should 
restore us his favour according to our lord the Pope's 
instructions, and give us back our Church in free 
possession. You asked me whether I would have 
a day appointed for an interview if he should wish to 
see me, and I replied, that I would have no day fixed 
till he should obey the Pope's mandate, but that as 
soon as he had done that, we could meet him on any 
day that he might appoint, and do all that lay in our 
power, saving God's honour and our own order. It 

1 Materials, vi, 493. 


was on this footing, my dear friend, that we parted. 
To this understanding you ought to have adhered, 
for no one knows better than you, that we do not 
dare to go one step beyond this, consistently with 
our duty to our God. I would have you to know, 
therefore, my soul's half, that it is not our intention, 
nor is it safe, to have a day fixed on, or to go to a 
conference, until he shall have received the Pope's 
mandate, and further, if so please him, until he shall 
have put it in execution ; lest perchance, which God 
forbid, if we give occasion for delay, the failure of 
our lord the Pope's mandate may be imputed to us, 
which would clearly be against our interests. Farewell 
ever ! " 

John of Salisbury wrote a further letter to the 
same friend. The archbishop, he said, was desirous 
of peace, but far more desirous of the glory of God ; 
and there was hope that vengeance would not be long 
deferred. He wrote also to the legates Simon and 
Bernard, speaking of Henry's sending of John of 
Poitiers as a crafty move and expressing his distrust 
of the ascetic Bernard, who would never use pen or 
ink : " It is often so that those who are boastfully 
declared to have nothing yet covet all the more this 
world's goods or glory," wrote John, who himself used 
the pen freely enough. To Bartholomew of Exeter 
he told the strange words Henry had used that no 
Church in the world had such freedom as the English, 
and that the clergy were the most unclean and atro- 
cious persons,' guilty of sacrilege, adultery, theft, 
murder, and every crime. 

Thomas himself did not leave the matter thus. He 
wrote directly, bitterly, x declaring himself ready to 

1 Materials, vi, 513. 


place himself at God's mercy and the king's, and 
as Henry wished it, to promise to observe the customs 
as his predecessors had observed them, " quatenus 
possem salvo ordine meo, et si aliquid amplius vel 
expressius promittere scirem in Domino, paratus fui, 
et sum adhuc, pro recuperanda gratia vestra." 
" Never," he said, " have I served you more freely 
than I am ready now to do ; I beg you to remember 
my services and the benefits you have conferred on 
me ; for I am mindful of my oath to preserve to you 
life and limb and earthly honour, and whatever I can 
do for you according to God's will as for a most dear 
lord I am ready to do." 

To the Pope he wrote again, at the same time, it 
seems 1 

" If the cause of our exile, holy father, had not been 
stated to you in dark colours by our enemies, we 
have no doubt that the king of England would not 
so long have abused your patience with impunity. 
But lo ! the truth has at last come out, and our 
persecutor's designs, by God's grace, are revealed. 
For lately, when we implored his mercy, on our knees, 
in the presence of his most Christian majesty, his 
archbishops, bishops, counts and nobles, he declared 
that he only required of us that we should observe 
the constitutions of his kingdom, which our ancestors 
had observed towards his, and that I should promise 
this on the word of a priest and bishop, as our messen- 
gers will faithfully explain to you. May it please 
your holiness, therefore, to listen to our faithful 
servants, who have shared with us in our exile, who 
were present and heard all that passed, for the 
English Church is now on its last legs, unless the 

1 Materials, vi, 514. 


hand of God and your hand apply a speedy remedy. 
The king of England boasts that you have conferred 
on him a privilege, by which he is to be freed from all 
ecclesiastical censure from us until we return to 
our Church and be reconciled towards him. It is a 
thing unheard of amongst us, that a bishop should be 
obliged to bind himself towards a secular prince to 
observe anything else besides what is contained in 
the oath of allegiance. We fear, therefore, though, 
by God's grace, our fears will be groundless, lest an 
additional obligation exacted from us may be a 
pernicious example to other princes, involving not 
only our contemporaries but our successors. Indeed, 
it is plain, that if the required constitutions shall be 
conceded, the authority of the holy see in England 
will become little, or perhaps nothing. This, indeed, 
as is evident from the writings and accounts of our 
forefathers, would long ago have happened, if the 
Church of Canterbury had not interposed itself to 
resist princes on behalf of the Church and her liberties. 
For there has seldom been a ruler of that Church who 
has not drawn the sword for righteousness' sake, 
and suffered exile or proscription. It is wonderful, 
therefore, and altogether astonishing that this 
persecution of the apostolic power even more than 
of our name should boast that he has found partizans 
in such a cause even at your own court. Nor need 
you fear that he will pass over to the schismatics, for 
Christ has so humbled him by the hand of His faithful 
servant, the king of the Franks, that he cannot 
depart from doing what he wishes." 

The anticipation of ultimate success on Becket's 
part seemed, as the days went on, to have more 
justification. Louis sent for him ; and when a timid 


clerk warned him that this was to drive him forth 
from Sens, the archbishop answered, " Thou art no 
prophet, nor prophet's son : prophesy no evil." 
When he came to the king, Louis fell before him to 
ask his forgiveness, for the wrong thoughts he had of 
peace-making at Montmirail : Becket alone had been 
right, he said. And so even the penless Bernard 
came to say that he would rather have his foot cut 
off than that the archbishop should have yielded at 
the conference. 

Early in February, 1169, the legates delivered to 
Henry not only a " commonitory " but a " com- 
minatory " letter from the Pope, but ah 1 Henry would 
answer to the commination was that Becket should 
never enter his kingdom again till he promised to 
obey what his predecessors had obeyed and what he 
himself (doubtless when he assented to the 
Constitutions) had promised before to obey. 

The archbishop's own version of the situation now 
reached comes in another letter to the Pope 1 

" The riches of your long-suffering and the abun- Letter to 
dance of God's goodness, have hitherto been treated the p P e - 
by the king of England with contempt, whilst he 
is ignorant, or pretends to be so, that your patience 
has for its end only to invite him to repentance. 
He is deaf to entreaties and to admonitions, boasting, 
to the dishonour of the apostolic see, and to the 
reproach of your blessed name, that you have granted 
him a privilege, by which he will be safe from us as 
long as he pleases, notwithstanding all the persecu- 
tions with which he may assail us and the Church of 
Canterbury. And the better to persuade mankind 
of so incredible an assertion, he is exhibiting all over 

1 Materials, vi, 519. 


Germany, France, and England, rescripts of letters 
which you have furnished him with against us, and 
woe is me that I should say so, against your own self. 
Thus, he requites your favour and kindness, so that 
his last deeds are worse than the former. But God 
has at last brought to light what I wish you had 
believed at first, for the justice of our cause and the 
real nature of his intentions have been declared in the 
face of the world. 

" For a short time since, at the second conference, 
in the hearing of his most Christian majesty and of 
all present on both sides, after receiving your letters 
comminatory, which he had often rejected, and then 
scarcely accepted, he owned that what he requires at 
our hands is nothing else than the observance of his 
usages, to which, as your holiness has seen and may 
remember, God's law and the sacred canons are 
evidently and altogether opposed. 

" At the instance of the most Christian king, and 
of the holy men whom your holiness has sent, he 
was indeed prevailed on to drop the mention of 
usages, but he changed the word without changing 
his meaning ; requiring that we should promise, on 
the word of truth, simply and absolutely, to act as 
our predecessors had acted. This, as he said, was 
the only way for us to obtain our Church and peace 
in his dominions ; but that even then we should not 
have his favour ; which he added, because he con- 
ceives that by your holiness's rescript our authority 
is suspended till such time as his favour is restored us. 

" On this proposal being laid before us by the holy 
men, Simon, prior of Mont-Dieu, and brother Bernard, 
we answered, ' that we could not conscientiously do 
what our predecessors did ; though indeed we know, 


from authentic documents, that some of them have 
suffered banishment in a like cause ; however, that 
we were prepared to yield him every service, even 
more than our predecessors had done, saving our 
order ; but that new obligations, unknown to the 
Church, and such as our predecessors were never 
bound by, ought not to be undertaken by us ; first, 
because it was bad as a precedent ; secondly, because 
your holiness's self, when in the city of Sens, absolved 
me from the observance of those usages hateful to 
God and the Church, and from the pledge which force 
and fear had extorted from me, in a special manner ; 
and after a grave rebuke, which, by God's grace, shall 
never pass from my mind, prohibited me from ever 
again obliging myself to anyone in a like cause, 
except saving God's honour and my order.' You 
added, too, if you are pleased to remember, that not 
even to save his life should a bishop bind himself, 
except saving God's honour and his order. For these 
reasons we made our promise to the holy men, ' that 
if the king would fulfil your holiness's mandate, by 
restoring us his favour and peace, and our Church, 
and what he had taken from ourself and ours, then 
we would endeavour with our whole might, saving 
God's honour and our order, to serve himself and his 
children ' ; but we stated, ' that, without authority 
from your holiness, we might not make changes in 
a formula which the whole Western Church acknow- 
ledges, and which is expressed even in those very 
reprobate usages for which we are banished. For 
there it is contained, that before consecration, 
bishops elect shall swear fealty to the king concerning 
life and limb, and earthly honour, saving their order. 
Why is it then that we alone are to be compelled by 


this captious pledge which is exacted from us, to drop 
all mention of God's honour and the indemnity of 
our order ? ' What Christian ever made such a 
demand on Christian ? 

" He has eluded the solicitations of the holy men 
by shifting his answers, and, after much saying and 
unsaying, has left them, regretting the toils and 
expense which have availed nothing. He did indeed 
pretend that he would summon the English bishops 
and consult them ; but in reality what he is waiting 
for is the return of his envoys from your holiness. 
For, as I learn from those who may be credited, they 
boast that, as they did on a former occasion, they 
will obtain from your holiness what the king desires, 
either by promises or threats. I cannot, however, 
believe that the apostolic see will compel anyone to 
suppress God's honour, or prohibit his mentioning 
the safety of his honour. And truly, if your holiness 
dismisses them, as they deserve, you will re-establish 
Church liberty, and the fair fame of the apostolic see. 
May it please you to deal manfully ; for most un- 
doubtedly, if it is your pleasure to put the wicked 
in fear, you will restore peace to the Church and 
a perishing soul to God. You have already seen 
what gentleness can effect ; now essay the other 
method. In the severity of justice you will most 
assuredly triumph. Exact what we have been des- 
poiled of, yea to the last farthing. Let it not get 
abroad among our contemporaries and posterity, that 
such rapine has escaped punishment, and thus em- 
bolden himself and his successors to repeat it. We 
have also to request most earnestly, that if the 
malefactors whom we excommunicated venture into 
your holiness's presence, or send to you, you will 



not absolve them to our prejudice. If this had not 
been done on a former occasion, the Church would 
have been at this day in the enjoyment of peace. 

" If he shall compel us, which, by God's grace, he 
shall slay us rather than we will consent to do, 
to submit to this obligation (for we have not forgotten 
the oath which we made to you and the Roman Church 
when we received the pall), he will by this precedent 
compel all the bishops and clergy to do as we have 
done. And other princes will have no difficulty in 
following his example. What he demands from us is 
demanded from knight or peasant in our country." 

Wearisome though the correspondence is, one may 
clearly read in its long-drawn-out protestations and 
counterchecks that a severe blow was being prepared. 
So Gilbert Foliot saw, and he, with Jocelin of Salis- 
bury, appealed to the Pope against any censure from 
Becket. The canonists debated whether this appeal 
could prevent a deserved censure : Becket was 
advised that it could not. Accordingly on Palm 
Sunday, 1169, at Clairvaux, he solemnly excom- 
municated Gilbert Foliot, bishop of London, and the 
bishop of Salisbury, with several of those who had 
seized upon Church property. He warned Geoffrey 
Ridel, archdeacon 'of Canterbury, Richard of Ilchester, 
archdeacon of Poitiers, Richard de Lucy, and others, 
that they too would be excommunicated, on the next 
Ascension Day, if they did not amend and give 
satisfaction. The letter to Foliot ran thus x 

" Your extravagances we have long enough borne 
with, and would that the sweetness of our patience 
which has been above measure detrimental to our- 
selves, may not be to the ruin of the whole Church. 

1 Materials, vi, 541. 




Its delivery 


S. Paul's, 


Day, 1169. 

You have abused our patience, and would not listen 
to the Pope or ourselves in the advice which concerned 
your salvation, but your obstinacy has become worse 
and worse, until, from regard to our sacred duty, and 
to the requirements of the law, we have for just and 
manifest causes passed sentence of excommunication 
on you, and cut you off from Christ's body, which is 
the Church, until you make condign satisfaction. We 
therefore command you, by virtue of your obedience 
and in peril of your salvation, your episcopal dignity, 
and priestly orders, to abstain, as the forms of the 
Church prescribe, from all communion with the 
faithful, lest by coming in contact with you the 
Lord's flock be contaminated to their ruin, whereas 
they ought to have been instructed by your teaching, 
and led by your example to everlasting life." 

Foliot tried every possible means to avert or resist 
the blow, and Henry wrote strongly on his behalf 
to the Pope. But the excommunication was delivered 
in a dramatic manner during high mass at S. Paul's 
on Ascension Day. Berengar, a French clerk, the 
archbishop's messenger, gave a packet into the hands 
of the celebrant, a priest named Vitalis, as though 
it were an offering. Holding the priest's hands 
firmly, Berengar ordered him on behalf of the Pope 
and the archbishop to give one copy to the bishop 
and one to the dean and not to celebrate mass till it 
was read. He ordered William of Northall, the 
gospeller (afterwards consecrated in 1186 to be 
bishop of Worcester, on the same day as S. Hugh to 
Lincoln), and William Hog, the epistoller, to witness, 
while in a loud voice he cried out " Know ye that 
Gilbert, bishop of London, is excommunicated by 
Thomas, archbishop of Canterbury and legate of the 


apostolic see." Concealed by his companion's cloak, 
he then escaped through the crowd. 

News was brought to the bishop at Stepney, and 
he summoned his clergy to hear his defence. He 
brought out among other reasons good or bad his 
own strange hobby, that London was an archiepiscopal 
see till the pagans came and destroyed it. The 
dean, archdeacon, canons, and all the parish priests 
joined in the appeal, with the abbat of Westminster 
and others. And letter after letter poured in to the 
bewildered Pope. The bishop applied to the king : 
the king offered his strongest support against " that 
traitor and my enemy, Thomas." Foliot crossed to 
Normandy and went on to Rome to prosecute his 

The excommunications threatened were delivered 
on Ascension Day. There was a further threat of 
interdict for all England on the Purification of the 
Blessed Virgin Mary, 1170. Alexander saw no way 
out of the new tangle but another commission. This 
was given to Gratian, subdeacon and notary of the 
Holy See, and Vivian, archdeacon of Orvieto, men 
erudite and industrious, says Herbert of Bosham, 
and the former the nephew of Eugenius III of blessed 
memory ; the latter (as it was said) not above being 
bribed it is of him that William of Newburgh uses 
the familiar phrase about Romans and cardinals. 

But there were many who thought that as both Q ratian 
Gratian and Vivian were lawyers, Henry could not and Vivian, 
bribe or overawe them. And indeed so it seemed 
when they saw the king, for when he began to 
demand the absolution of those who had been ex- 
communicated, and to swear at large by God's eyes, 
Gratian answered, " Threaten not, sir ; we are of a 


court that has been wont to give the law to emperors." 
He promised many concessions, but the way in which 
they were received by the large assembly of bishops, 
most of them his own subjects, gives some ground for 
believing that Becket had reason for regarding all his 
promises as treacherous. On the excommunication 
question he could not get his way, and he shouted 
out to Gratian, "Do as you like; I don't care an egg 
for you or your excommunication." Days were spent 
in fruitless talk. At last it seemed that there was 
hope of a reconciliation. They yielded so far as to 
absolve Geoffrey Ridel, Nigel Sackville and Thomas 
Fitz-Bernard on an oath of unconditional obedience 
to their commands. But then Henry demanded 
the insertion in any agreement of the words " saving 
the dignity of the kingdom," and they on Becket's 
behalf of a " saving the dignity of the Church." 
Gratian returned to Rome saying Henry was not to be 
trusted. Vivian made one more attempt. 

Meanwhile Becket sent orders to the bishops and 
the religious orders in England, as primate and papal 
legate, to publish if the king should not repent and 
make amends before then on the Feast of the Puri- 
fication, 1170, an interdict on all England. Other 
names, including that of John of Oxford, were to be 
added from Christmas, 1169, to the list of the excom- 
municates. Henry as a counterblast sent orders into 
England, that anyone found with letters of the Pope 
or archbishop should be instantly taken and executed 
as a traitor ; that no one should be allowed to leave 
England without the king's licence ; no appeal be 
allowed to Pope or archbishop ; that anyone from 
bishop to layman, observing the interdict, should be 
banished with all their kin and have all their goods 


confiscated ; that all the goods and possessions of 
those " who favour Pope or archbishop " and those 
of all their kin of either sex be seized and confiscated ; 
that all clerks return to England under pain of con- 
fiscation ; that Peter's pence be not sent to Rome 
but collected for the king. 

But this was not Henry's final measure. He still Meeting at 
endeavoured to pacify his enemies. He proposed a Mont- 
pilgrimage to S. Denys, to propitiate Louis, and this November 
succeeded. He induced Vivian to meet him at i8th, 1169. 
Montmartre, the chapel of the holy martyrdom of the 
saint. There Becket had come for one more attempt, 
it seems, to see his master and old friend. They met, 
the archbishop of Rouen and the bishop of S6ez, 
besides Vivian and Louis, mediating. They seemed 
to come to an entire agreement : Henry yielded every- 
thing : Becket was satisfied with the restoration of 
the property of the Church as he had held it when he 
went to the Council of Tours and as Theobald had held 
before him. " Concerning that word added, Salvo 
honore Dei, about which in the last meeting the whole 
strife and contention had been, there was not a 
record nor a mention," says Herbert of Bosham. All 
seemed satisfactorily arranged, but then let Herbert 
tell the tale 1 

" Thus every storm seemed to be blown over, and 
we were, as we thought, on the point of entering the 
harbour, when the archbishop, through the mediators, 
demanded some guarantee of the conditions ; not, as 
he said, because he suspected the king of treachery, 
but that he naturally entertained suspicions about 
some of the courtiers after so long a quarrel, and he 
wished that some outward sign or token of peace 

1 Materials, iii, 449. 


should pass between them. Now the archbishop, 
being a prudent man, had some days before the 
meeting consulted the apostolic pontiff what caution 
he should require, if the king should allow him after 
so long variance to return to his Church. To this 
question the Pope replied, that as a Churchman and 
priest he could not exact a pledge or oath from the 
king ; that the cause between them was one of 
justice and the peace of the Church, for which, 
whether in open quarrel or after peace was made, it 
was precious to yield one's life. None of the ordinary 
guarantees were therefore to be required in such a 
case ; ' but,' added his holiness, ' If God willing, you 
could prevail upon the king to let a kiss of peace pass 
between you, with that you might be content, without 
requiring any other caution, unless it should be 
spontaneously offered.' 

" The archbishop, fortified by this advice, when 
everything else was arranged, followed the Pope's 
counsel, and desired that the king should give him 
a kiss as a token of their reconciliation ; but when 
the king received this communication through the 
mediators and the king of the Franks, he replied, that 
he should have been very ready to do as the arch- 
bishop required, if he had not formerly sworn publicly 
that he would never kiss him, even if he should at some 
future time be persuaded to make peace with him ; 
and that the sole cause of his refusing now to kiss the 
archbishop was his wish not to break his oath. 

" The king of the Franks and most of the mediators 
hearing this, entertained a suspicion that under the 
honied words which had hitherto passed between 
them, they had perhaps been made to drink poison. 
So they returned in haste to the archbishop, who 


was waiting in the chapel of the Martyrdom, and 
reported the king's answer. And being timid men, 
and now entertaining suspicion, they made no 
comment on the subject, but delivered duly the 
king's answer, just as he had spoken it. 

" Now the archbishop was one of the most cautious 
of cautious men, having experienced many things, 
and as soon as ever he heard the king's answer, he 
and the others became suspicious and from what he 
said both secretly and openly he seemed already to 
see into the future : for he did not wait to consult 
anyone, but answered absolutely and precisely that 
at present he would not make peace with the king, 
unless, according to the advice of the apostolic pon- 
tiff, it should be ratified by the kiss of peace. This 
so absolute answer cut short the conference, just as 
night was coming on : and the kings had a long 
journey before them to Mantes, where their quarters 
had been prepared, which was twelve leagues from 

" The king of the English, tired with the long day, 
now had a long way to ride by night, often and often 
on the way cursed the archbishop, reckoning up the 
various annoyances and causes of vexation which he 
had given him. 

" Whilst the kings thus took their departure, we 
retired to pass the night in a house of the Templars 
which is called the Temple, and just outside Paris. 
As we were leaving the chapel, which is called the 
Martyrdom, in which the business of the day concern- 
ing the pacification had been done, one of our people 
came up to the archbishop and said thus : ' My lord, 
this day's conference has been held in the chapel of 
the Martyrdom, and I believe that nothing but your 



Letter to 
at Rome. 

martyrdom will ever ensure peace to the Church.' 
Thus answered the archbishop : ' Would that she 
might be freed, even by my blood ! ' 

That night after the night office (matins) in the 
chapel of the Temple, many of the " erudite " came 
to Becket and told him they could approve his cause 
no longer. The king had yielded on every point, he 
had given up his salvo and was ready to restore the 
Church and property. There was no reason now 
why they should stay in exile : he held out only for 
that merely personal matter of the kiss of peace. 
Becket listened carefully and attentively to " the 
wounding words," then he said that without the kiss 
the peace could not stand ; but that if they so wished, 
and the Pope would agree, he would gladly go back 
to England to suffer there what the Lord should 
decree. Many saw his meaning, says Herbert, and 
burst into tears. 

It is probably to this time that a letter of Becket 
to Alexander and John, his agents at the Papal Court, 
may be attributed. 1 Vivian, he says, now sees 
through the treachery of Henry, and he himself was 
ready to meet the king in Normandy for a settlement. 

" But you must endeavour to persuade the Pope 
to forbid our incurring any new obligation, not 
warranted by the customs of the Gallican and Anglican 
Churches, and not to depart from the form which we 
sent in writing to the king, to command that a decent 
portion of our property shall be restored to us, to 
alarm the king by the threat of an interdict on his 
continental dominions, to write earnestly to the king 

1 Materials, vii, 173. No date is given, and the editor 
regarded it as supplementary to a letter of 1167 (see above, 
p. 187), but it refers to the meeting at Montmartre. 


charging him to receive us in the kiss of peace, and 
to issue fresh letters commanding the restoration of 
the lands which we named as having been taken away 
from the see of Canterbury, the restoration of which 
is essential to the peace. He must forbid us to 
absolve any of the excommunicates unless they sub- 
mit to take the oath, according to the custom and 
forms of the Church. 1 For among all the preroga- 
tives of the Constitutions which he claims to God's 
prejudice, if we may believe men of experience, this 
is the most pernicious. If he fails in his presumption 
on this point, he will not, we trust, insist upon the 
other, lest he be again confounded. Furthermore, the 
lord Pope should write and thank the most Christian 
king for the consolation he has held out to us, point- 
ing out to him what a sin and sacrilege it is to take 
the property of the Church, and without just cause 
to defraud ecclesiastics of their goods, and how 
impossible it is to forgive sin, unless there be repent- 
ance and restitution when there is opportunity of 
making it. If stolen property when it can be restored 
is not restored, it is but a fantastic repentance, and 
not the true which leadeth to salvation, but rather 
accumulates to condemnation. 

" We send to you the petition which we offered to 
the king, and desire that you do not depart from it, 
unless you can better our cause, also the letter which 
we sent to Master Vivian, and which, as we have 
heard, he forwarded to the king of the English. 
You will thus be better provided for advancing the 
Church's interests. If any of the chatterers presume 

1 This is the oath required, on absolution, to obey the 
decisions of the Church. It was one of the points which, in 
the Constitutions of Clarendon, the king refused. 
15 (aai6) 


to blame us for not entering the king's dominions 
without the kiss of peace, let them remember the case 
of Robert de Silly, 1 who was not safe either by the 
kiss or by the pledge given to the king of the Franks, 
and unless they are out of their senses, they will not, 
I think, blame me. 

" May God direct both you and me, too, that we 
may do his will in all things, and whether by joy or 
sorrow to ourselves, restore liberty to his Church. 
These things you shall signify from us to his lordship 
of Ostia, and the other things which I wrote to the 
archbishop of Sens, and as he shall advise you, to 
other of our friends who are waiting for the redemption 
of Israel. 

" The bishop of Lisieux, as you know, persecutes 
us, though wearing the name of our friend, like the 
man in Ovid, whose character he has sustained under 
the guise of a bishop, giving arms at one moment 
to the Greeks against the Amazons, and the next 
moment to the Amazons against the Greeks ; 2 now 
assisting the ecclesiastics against the seculars, and 
now the seculars against the ecclesiastics. See what 
he has lately written for the bishop of London, whose 
deserts are well known to you, and then recall to mind 
the advice which he used to give us. You see how 
truly he is playing the part of Sinon between the 
Greeks and the Trojans, and the etymology of that 
cunning Greek's name well applies to him, for he is 
always hesitating between Si ! and Non ! That priest 
and clerk of his lordship of Pavia has persevered to 
the end the same as he was in the beginning. What 
that is, I believe, my lord Gratian knows as well as 

1 A Poitevin vassal of Henry's. 
* Ovid, de arte amandi, iii, i, 2. 


I. For he sided with him when he was here, and 
since that he has always stuck to the king." 

A letter to the Pope praising Vivian followed this, 
and another to his agents carried on the tale 1 with 
exceedingly sharp words about the bishop of 
Salisbury's archdeacon and son 

" Be zealous in attending to our business, and 
use continued and unflinching diligence to counteract 
our adversaries, especially that spurious offspring of 
fornication, and enemy of the peace of the Church, 
that son of a priest, Reginald of Salisbury, who is 
everywhere defaming our character to the utmost of 
his power, saying that we have acted treacherously, 
and that we promised him we would not in any way 
aggrieve his father. We would no more make such 
a promise to him than to a dog. He says also that 
if our lord the Pope was to depart, he would get our 
name blotted out of the book of life, for he boasts 
that the Roman Curia is so venal that he could get it 
to grant him what he likes. He has also suggested 
to the king of the English to make a petition to the 
lord Pope, that he shall grant permission to some 
English bishop to crown the king's son, and conse- 
crate new bishops, and so deceive the Pope. When 
the king replied to all this, that he did not believe 
the Pope would consent, Reginald answered, ' Our 
lord the Pope will act like a thick -head and a fool 
if he does not grant your requests.' We, therefore, 
entreat your kindness, for we confide unhesitatingly 
in your fidelity, to stand firm with our friend Hugotio 
of Rome, who is just gone back out of France, and 
with our other friends and your own, in defending 
our cause, and the justice and liberties of the Church ; 

1 Materials, vii, 181. 


to the defeat and confusion of that fabrication of 
falsehood and deceit, that his wickedness may be 
revealed and recoil on his own head, that he may 
repent of ever having come to the court, and may 
be held up to the world as having been defeated in 
his schemes, as he deserves. For, as you know well, 
if our lord the Pope were to lend an ear to the king's 
petitions in such a matter, which God forbid, he may 
be sure that the authority of the Roman Church in 
England will for ever fall, and no one shall ever again 
dare to mention the name of its apostolic authority. 
But if our lord the Pope, as is best for him to do, sends 
away the king's ambassadors foiled and baffled, 
he may be sure that by God's mercy we shall imme- 
diately obtain peace. For the king of England 
insists most on these two points, the coronation of his 
son and the consecration of the bishops, and he will 
be compelled to make peace with us, if he sees the 
Pope firm. Among other things take care not to talk 
with the above-named Hugotio on our business in 
presence of the cardinals or any other person, but take 
an opportunity of speaking to him privately about 
the settlement of our matters ; so that no one may 
know there is any intimacy between you and him." 
A new point appears in this letter: it was that 
which was at last to bring Becket back to his own 
land the question of crowning king Henry's son. 



WHEN Vivian returned from his bootless task Alex- Renewed 
ander did not give up all hopes of effecting a recon- h P es ' 
ciliation between the English combatants. It was 
unfortunate, perhaps, that he had no consistent 
policy ; but the papacy in the twelfth and thirteenth 
centuries never had. The very "customs" for which 
Henry II was reprobated were allowed a little later to 
Philip Augustus : what an English king might not 
do a Sicilian king did without protest ; and neither 
Henry nor Becket knew at what point of principle 
the Pope could be depended upon to remain fixed. 
However, the Papacy was great in negotiations, and 
legations at least paid themselves. On January 19th, A new 
1170, Alexander issued a new commission, toRotrou, legation, 
archbishop of Rouen and Bernard, bishop of Nevers, 
subjects, the one of Henry, the other of Louis, directing 
them to require from the English king the kiss of 
peace to the archbishop and the restoration of the 
property of the deprived clerks. 1 An interdict was 
to be pronounced on Henry's continental dominions 
if after forty days the king had not accepted these 
terms. But, on the other hand, if they had certain 
hope of peace and reconciliation the legates 
might absolve those whom the archbishop had 

And, three weeks later, the Pope went further, 

1 See the Pope's letter, Materials, vii, 198. 


authorizing, in a letter of February 12th to the 
bishop himself, the absolution of, Foliot ; he was 
formally absolved by the archbishop of Rouen on 
Easter Day, 1 on his way home. When he reached 
England he published his freedom abroad ; he had 
celebrated mass publicly before he left Rouen. 2 Thus 
Becket, writing to Cardinal Albert, denounced the 
absolution 3 

" Would that your ears, my dear brother, were open 
to what is published in the streets of Ascalon to the 
shame of the Roman Church. Our latest messenger 
seemed to have some consolation from the apostolic 
see in the letters which he bore from the lord Pope ; 
but their authority is made void by the letters officially 
issued that Satan be unloosened for the destruction 
of the Church. For by the apostolic mandate the 
bishops of London and Salisbury are absolved, of 
whom the former is known to have been from the 
first the exciter of schism and the author of all 
malice, while the latter did all he could to encourage 
others in disobedience. I know not how it is that 
in the Court of Rome the Lord's side is always 
sacrificed, that Barabbas escapes, and Christ is slain. 
By the authority of the Curia, our exile and the 
calamity of the Church has been prolonged to the 
end of the sixth year. With you the wretched, the 
exiles, the innocent are condemned, and for no other 
reason (on my conscience I say it) than because they 
are the poor of Christ and weak, and would not go 
back from the righteousness of God, while on the 

1 April 5th. See letter to Becket, Materials, vii, 275. 

* This seems to be the true reading of the letter, Materials, 
vii, 278, which Fr. Morris and others misinterpreted. 

* Materials, vii, p. 279. 


other hand you absolve the sacrilegious, the mur- 
derers, the robbers, the impenitent, whom I openly 
declare, on the authority of Christ, that not Peter 
himself, did he rule the Church, could absolve in the 
sight of God. . . . Let him who dares absolve the 
robbers, the sacrilegious, the murderers, the perjurers, 
the men of blood, the schismatics, without repent- 
ance. I will never forgive to the impenitent the 
things which have been taken away from God's 
Church. Is it not our spoils, or rather the spoils of 
the Church, which the king's envoys lavish on and 
pay to the cardinals and courtiers ? . . . For myself 
I am determined never to trouble the Court more ; 
let those resort thither who prevail in their iniquities, 
and after triumphing over justice and leading inno- 
cence captive, return with boasting for the confusion 
of the Church. Would to God that the Roman way 
had not caused for no purpose the deaths of so many 
wretched innocent folk. Who in the future will dare 
to resist that king whom the Roman Church animates 
and arms with such triumphs, leaving a deadly 
example to posterity ? " 

It seemed, indeed, that the Roman Church had Leave to 
animated the king with another triumph. He had crown the 
long desired to establish his throne, which was none 
too secure, in England by the coronation during his 
own lifetime of his eldest son, Becket's former pupil. 
Possibly now, but it is more charitable to suppose 
earlier, when in 1167 Alexander was at the crisis 
of his fate during the siege of Rome by Frederick, 1 

1 See Materials, vi, 206, where the date is provisionally 
given as 1167. The day is June 17th. But did Henry or 
Roger apply for the licence in that year ? Bohmer. 
Corpus Juris Canon. See Migne PL. cc., 457. 


the Pope had granted the permission which it was 
not his to grant. 

" Since through our dearest son Henry, the illus- 
trious king of the English, great gains and comforts 
are known to have come to the Church in this article 
of our necessity and as we love him with the more 
affection for the constancy of his devotion and 
hold him dearer to our heart, so do we the more 
freely and promptly desire all such things as lend to 
the honour, the increase, and the exaltation of himself 
and his. Hence it is that, as his petition, we by the 
authority of the blessed Peter and our own, and by 
the counsel of our brethren, grant that our dearly 
loved son Henry, the said king's eldest son, may be 
crowned in England. 

" Since therefore this pertaineth to your office we 
command you by apostolic letters that when you shall 
be required by the aforesaid our son the king you 
shall place the crown upon the head of this said son, 
by the authority of the apostolic see; and what shall 
be therein done by you we decree to remain valid and 

It was on this permission, whenever given, that 
Roger of York was now ready to obey the king's 
commands. But on February 20th, 1170, the Pope 
issued a contrary order l to Roger and all the English 
bishops : " Whereas it has come to our hearing 
on the report of many that the coronation and unction 
of the kings of England belongs by ancient custom 
and dignity of his church to the archbishop of 
Canterbury, we strictly entreat you by apostolic 
authority in these our letters, if the illustrious king 
of the English should wish his son to be crowned 

1 Materials, vii, 217. 


and anointed while our venerable brother the arch- 
bishop of Canterbury is in exile, from presuming to 
lay your hands on him or in any way intruding into 
the matter, which if any of you shall presume to 
do let him know that it is in peril of his office and 
order. In this matter we refuse all appeal and every 
occasion of malignancy." 

Whatever may be the date of the first letter and 
whatever the cause of the inconsistency which was 
the grievous weakness of the papal court through all 
these years, one cannot wonder at the indignant 
eloquence to the " coexiles of Thomas " in the letter 
which they addressed to Cardinal Albert. 1 During 
six years they had been persecuted, and neglected 
by the Pope. To whomsoever had given him the 
ill advice on which he had acted he might well say, 
" Get thee behind me, Satan, for thou savourest not 
the things which be of God." The Curia, shamelessly 
open to bribes, was the real cause of the long exile, 
of the neglect of the people destitute of Christ's 
word, of the corruption of good men by " the Roman 
way." To such complaints there was no answer. No 
one has asserted that the papal Curia was honest or 

On June 14th, 1170, Roger crowned the young But acted 
king in Westminster Abbey. The night before he on, June 
had received the Pope's inhibition, and a letter from 
Becket forbidding him to do so, though the ports 
had been strictly watched by the king's orders. The 
papal prohibition which Becket sent was probably 
conveyed by a female hand that of a nun who either 
bore the name Idonea or was merely designated 
by the archbishop as his dear daughter apt and 

1 Materials, vii, 283. 


meet for the work of danger. His letter to her is 
characteristic x 

" God hath chosen the weak things of the world 
to confound the mighty. 

" The pride of Holof ernes which exalted itself 
against God, when the warriors and the priests failed, 
was extinguished by the valour of a woman ; when 
Apostles fled and denied their Lord, women attended 
Him in His sufferings, followed Him after His death, 
and received the first-fruits of the Lord's Resurrec- 
tion. We trust that you also are animated with their 
zeal. God grant that you may pass into their society. 
The Spirit of love hath cast out fear from your heart, 
and will bring it to pass that the things which the 
need of the Church demands of you, arduous though 
they be, shall appear not only possible but easy. 

" Having this hope, therefore, of your zeal in the 
Lord, I command you, and for the remission of your 
sins enjoin on you, that you deliver the letters, which 
I send you from his holiness the Pope to our vener- 
able brother Roger, archbishop of York, in the 
presence, if possible, of our brethren and fellow 
bishops; and if not, in the face of all who happen to 
be present. Moreover, lest by any collusion the 
original instrument should be suppressed, deliver a 
transcript of it to be read by the bystanders, and open 
to them its intentions, as the messenger will instruct 

" My daughter, a great prize is offered for your 
toil remission of sins, a fruit that perisheth not 

1 Materials, vii, 307. It has been generally treated as 
written at the time of Roger of York's suspension, but that 
letter was sent by a man, and the editors are probably right 
in attributing this to the present occasion. 


the crown of glory, which, in spite of all the sins of 
their past lives, the blessed sinners the Magdalene and 
the Egyptian have received from Christ their Lord. 

" The Mother of Mercy will be with you, and will 
entreat her Son, Whom she bore for the sins of the 
world, God and Man, to be the leader, companion, 
and the patron of your journey. He who burst the 
bonds of hell, and curbed the violence of devils, can 
restrain the hands of the impious lest any should 
hurt you. 

" Farewell, Bride of Christ, and ever think on His 
presence with you." 

Roger, bishop of Worcester, the king's first cousin, Roger of 
had been prevented by the Norman justiciar from Worcester 

TT i j iTv ' j i. and hls 

crossing to England, as he had been ordered to do. cousin 

Henry II when he returned to Normandy met him king- 
three miles out of Falaise a place which might 
remind them both that the lineage of the one was not 
much less spotted than that of the other and bitterly 
reproached him, for he knew, very likely, that Thomas 
had also forbidden him to go ; very sharp words 
passed on both sides, and the courage of the old 
bishop may well have warned the king that public 
feeling had become more and more decisively against 
him. When some of the courtiers tried to truckle 
to Henry by abusing his cousin he turned angrily upon 
one of them, a Gascon knight, with the tongue of his 
race, and said : "Do you think, you base fellow, 
that if I say what I choose to my kinsman and my 
bishop that you or any other may dishonour him with 
your tongue ? I can hardly keep my hands from 
your eyes : neither you nor the others may say a 
word against the bishop." Henry in fact had begun 
to see that he might do well to take the advice of his 



honest kinsman, so he made him ride back with him 
to his lodging and "after dinner," says Fitz-Stephen, 
" the king and the bishop talked in private and in 
amity together, and concerning a reconciliation with 
the archbishop." 

It was high time. Louis, enraged that his daughter 
should not have been crowned with her young 
husband, was threatening war. The Pope was 
besieged with supplications and denunciations on 
all sides, and it was certain that he could not condone 
the flat disobedience. Becket quite plainly an- 
nounced that the threatened interdict would now 
be issued. 

By the end of June, Henry was at Falaise. There 
the legates came to him and gave him " commoni- 
tory " letters from the Pope. He still held out about 
the kiss. He began his restless hurrying over his 
domains, so characteristic a resort in a time of stress. 
Two days later he was probably at Argentan ; on 
the 6th he was at La Ferte" Bernard, where he met 
Thibault of Blois ; a little later he was at Vendome 
and saw King Louis. Meanwhile the legates had 
come to Sens, and with William the archbishop had 
seen Becket. They prevailed on him again to meet 
the king, when he would be with Louis, in the friendly 
country of Chartres. On July 20th, two days before 
S. Mary Magdalen's festival, they met on the open 
plain between La Ferte", Villeneuil, and Fre"teval, on 
the frontiers, that is, of Louis's land of Chartres and 
the county of Vendome. 

Fitz-Stephen tells the tale briefly, Herbert more 
briefly still. Becket' s own account is the best. It 
is to be found in a letter to the Pope announcing, in 
the happiest vein, the end of his long sorrows and 


the reconciliation with his friend. 1 He begins with 
a cry of rejoicing that " God hath looked with an 
eye of compassion on the Church and at length hath 
turned her sorrow into joy." If Henry had been 
successful the liberty of the Church would have been 
entirely destroyed, the Roman pontiff would have 
been unknown in England, and the privileges of the 
Church would have been blotted out without hope of 
recovery. It was the threat of interdict and the 
knowledge that " Frederic, the so-called emperor," 
was not spared which brought the king to submission. 
And complete submission it was. 

" For concerning the customs for which he used 
with such pertinacity to contend, he did not presume 
to speak one word. He exacted no oath from one 
or from any of us : he yielded to us the possessions 
which he had taken away on account of this dissen- 
sion, as we had set them down on a schedule ; he 
promised peace and security and return from exile 
to all our companions, and even the kiss if we desired 
to press him so far. In every article he appeared 
vanquished, insomuch that he was called perjured 
by some who bade him swear that he would not that 
day admit us to the kiss." 

Then he describes the scene his own arrival with 
the archbishop of Sens, Henry's rushing forward 
through the crowd, with uncovered head, and offering 
the first salutation, and then his long talk with such 
friendly intimacy that it seemed as if there had never 
been any division. 

" And almost everyone who was present, with the The 

most joyous amazement glorified God, tears bedewing T *?.":~ 
j.1. v. i r j J.L 1-1 j TUT j i cihahon. 

the cheeks of many, and blessed the blessed Magdalen, 

1 Materials, vii, 326. 



on whose day it was, that the king was turned from 
the former ways, to restore joy to his whole land and 
peace to the Church. We corrected hirn, with such 
moderation as was fitting ; we plainly showed him 
the ways wherein he was going, and the perils which 
beset him on every side ; we besought and warned 
him to repent and, bringing forth worthy fruits of 
penance and making open compensation to the 
Church, which he had not slightly injured, to purge 
his conscience and redeem his reputation, for from 
evil counsellors rather than from the motion of 
his own will both had suffered much hurt. And 
when he had heard all this not only with patience 
and also with kindness, and promised amendment, 
we added that it was necessary for his welfare and 
for the security and preservation to his children of 
the power which God had given him that he should 
give satisfaction to his mother the Church of Canter- 
bury for the matter wherein he had of late grievously 
wounded her." 

And then they embarked on a constitutional dis- 
cussion as to the right to crown kings. Henry could 
point to the coronation of William the Conqueror by 
Ealdred of York, Becket could explain it through 
the schismatic intrusion of Stigand into the see of 
Canterbury. Henry I had been crowned by the 
bishop of Hereford : here Becket's history was at 
fault ; but Anselm was in exile and when he returned 
Henry came with his diadem and asked him to place 
it on his head for only the necessity for immediate 
coronation had made him allow the breach of the 
privilege of Canterbury. Then they spoke of the 
young king, for whom Becket expressed much 
affection, and Henry with bright face and cheerful 


voice said that he had a right to give such love, for 
he himself had given his boy to Becket as a son, and 
the lad's affection for him was such that he could 
not endure to look on the face of any of his enemies. 

" Then leaping from my horse, I would have hum- 
bled myself at his feet, but he seized the stirrup and 
compelled me to remount, and seemed to shed tears 
while he said ' What more ? My archbishop, let us 
restore again our old love to each other ; let us each 
show the other what good he can, and be forgetful 
of the former hatred. But, I beseech you, show me 
honour in the sight of those who now watch afar off.' 
And passing over to them he said (because he saw 
that some of them, whom the bearer of this will 
indicate to you, were lovers of discord and incentors 
of hatred), so that he might stop the mouths both of 
them and of all who should speak evil, ' If I, when 
I find the archbishop prepared to every good thing, 
should not be myself good to him, then were I the 
worst of all men, and I should prove the evil things 
that are said of me to be true. Nor do I believe 
that any advice is more honourable or useful that 
I study to surpass him in kindness and charity.' ' 

So they parted for the moment, till Becket was 
to make his formal request for restitution. It was 
made, and it was accepted, and they talked together 
familiarly till nightfall, as of old. Becket added that 
he did not fear that the king would not keep his 
word, unless evil counsellors misled him. Arnulf of 
Lisieux suggested that all who had been excommuni- 
cated should be absolved ; the archbishop answered 
that this could not be done without distinction, and 
that satisfaction must be made. Henry issued a 
formal act of reconciliation and restoration, promising 



true peace and firm security, and all the possessions 
which he held when he was first made archbishop. 

_. , . But there was delay. Henry fell ill, and when 

Delay in , . J J . , '. 

restoration. ne recovered seemed in no hurry to fulfil his promises. 

When they met at Tours he avoided giving the kiss 
which he had not given by having a requiem sung 
instead of the ordinary mass, so that there should 
be no kiss. And then he got on his horse and rode 
away so quickly that Thomas could scarce catch him, 
and when he did they had sharp words. And so 
again at Chaumont there was an evasion. But orders 
were sent over to England to the young king to 
see that the archbishop's property was restored ; but 
even then it was not done till the king's officers 
had got the Michaelmas rents. So Becket com- 
plained, and Alexander gave him formal authority, 
as legate, to lay censure, without option of appeal, 
on any (saving the persons of the king, queen, and 
their children) who should not restore possession or 
do justice. The pretensions of York still remained : 
Becket seems to have claimed that he should admit 
his primacy. He saw that peace was not really made. 
"I believe," he wrote to the Pope, "that I shall 
return to England, but whether for peace or for pain 
I know not, but what our lot shall be is ordained of 
God." To Henry he wrote more sharply as to the 
delay 1 

" It is known to the Inspector of hearts, the Judge 
of souls, the Avenger of crimes, Christ, in what 
purity and sincerity we made peace with you, believ- 
ing that we should be met with singleness of heart 
and good faith. For what else, my most serene 
lord, could we conceive from your words which your 

1 Materials, vii, 393. 


kindness addressed to us, either to convince or to 
pacify us ? You sent letters to my lord the king, 
your son, that he should restore to us and to our 
adherents all the possessions which we had before 
we left England ; what idea could we form from them, 
but of benevolence, peace, and security ? But lo ! 
your honour is at stake, which, God knows, we value 
beyond your profit, and the sequel shows neither 
good faith nor singleness of heart. For the restitu- 
tion, which you commanded to be made to us, is 
put off to the tenth day under pretence of Ranulf 
de Broc, whose presence your son's counsellors thought 
necessary to the performance of your orders. Who 
those counsellors are, and with what fidelity to you 
they have acted in this matter, will be a subject for 
your enquiry, when it shall seem good to you. We, 
however, are persuaded that these things are done 
to the injury of the Church and to the loss of your own 
credit and salvation, if you do not correct them. 
For the aforesaid Ranulf is, in the meantime, seizing 
on the property of the Church, and openly storing 
up in Saltwood Castle the victuals which he has 
taken from us ; and as we have been told by those 
who can prove it to you whenever you shall demand 
it, he has boasted on the hearing of many, that we 
shall not long enjoy the peace which you have 
granted us, and he threatens to take away our life, 
before we have eaten one whole loaf in England. 
You know, my most serene lord, that the man who 
has the power to correct what is wrong and neglects 
it becomes a party to the crime. The above-named 
Ranulf can have nothing to do in the matter, unless 
backed by your wishes and supported by your 
authority. Your discretion will be made acquainted 

16 (2316) 


with the answer which he returns to the king your 
son's letter, and you will judge of it according to 
your good pleasure. And whereas the Church of 
Canterbury, which is the spiritual mother of the 
British Isles, is evidently perishing in consequence of 
the odium which falls on us, we will serve her at 
the peril of our own life ; we will expose our own 
head, with God's permission, to that persecuting 
Ranulf and his accomplices ; he shall kill us, not 
once but a thousand times, if God will only, by his 
grace, give us strength and patience to endure it. 

" It was our intention, my lord, to return to you, 
but woe is me, necessity drives me to my suffering 
Church. I go thither by your licence and under 
your protection, to die in its behalf, unless your 
filial piety vouchsafe speedily to give me consolation. 
But whether we live or die, we are yours in the Lord, 
and ever will be : whatever may happen to us and 
ours, may God bless you and your children ! " 

It is plain that the strange sense of dread, the 
premonition which there is no reason at all to suppose 
was affected or unnatural, weighed down the spirits 
of the archbishop, who seemed to have won his case. 
In truth he had received only promises ; and men 
knew what was the value of the promises of the 
Angevin king. 

They had met twice since the reconciliation at 
Fre"teval. The second time Becket had said, " My 
heart tells me that I shall see you no more in this life," 
and Henry answered, " Do you take me for a traitor ? " 
" That be far from thee, my lord," were the last words 
of the archbishop to his old friend. 

They were to have met again at Rouen early in 
November, but Henry wrote that he was detained by 


disturbances in Auvergne. He sent John of Oxford, 
schismatic and " jurator," to represent him. It 
could not have been pleasant to the man who had 
excommunicated him four years before. When he 
heard why he had come, he said, " How things change." 
In this unwelcome guardianship he prepared to return 
to his own land. 

Many urged him not to go, Louis, among them, 
promising him so long as he lived "the riches of 
Gaul." But it would have been cowardly to delay. 
He said to the bishop of Paris, " I go to England to 
die." No one seems to have been ignorant of his 

On November 24th he went to Wissant. On the 
30th he sent letters suspending the archbishop of 
York and excommunicating the bishops of London 
and Salisbury, or rather replacing them, by papal 
authority, under the sentences from which they had 
been irregularly released. The letters were delivered 
to the three prelates as they were waiting next day at 
Dover to cross to the king. On the same day Becket 
landed at Sandwich. Even the pilot had warned 
him. But from the moment of reconciliation at 
Fre"teval he was determined to return to his see, 
whatever might befall. 



OUT of the voluminous records of these years of strife 
and out of the sheaves of letters which when all was 
over seemed to become almost sacred relics, there 
emerge a few personalities which time has been unable 
to efface. Henry, the great king, duke and count, 
whose vast territories were not wide enough for his 
unresting activities, a strong man with the wisdom 
of a statesman and a lawyer, impetuous, savage, 
relentless, treacherous, of unbridled passions and 
indomitable will : he is the commanding figure in 
the English history of his age. There can be no 
wonder that he was not a popular king : he was too 
restless, too heartless, too exacting in his demands 
on his servants, too fickle in his affections, too 
determined in his statecraft. 

Round him clustered the ablest body of ministerial 
officials that medieval England had seen, judges, 
soldiers, ambassadors, financiers, priests, men who 
could turn their hands to any work and could do it 
well, who were devoted to him, who served him with- 
out sparing themselves, and learnt from him so well 
that they could carry on the fabric of government 
which he had built up, when his own guiding brain 
was replaced by a recklessness which exaggerated 
one part of his nature and then by a treacherous 
baseness which parodied another, for years after 
his death. 

In the Church there were still leaders, men who 


had filled a great place and some who would have 
filled it if they had not been under the heel of one 
greater than themselves, Henry of Winchester, 
trained as a Cistercian but practised as a statesman, 
now in his old age unflinchingly on the side of the 
Church's claims as represented by the Primate, but 
yet too eminent and too grave in his silence to be 
oppressed by the Angevin lord ; Roger of York, 
growing lethargic in his vast province but full of 
ambition and enmity to the last, not overburdened 
by ecclesiastical scruple, a tool whom men more 
astute might use ; Gilbert of London, learned, 
pedantic, scrupulous over mint and cumin, of restless 
temper and untamed fire, denying ambition yet 
obviously critical, bitter, jealous, implacable ; 
Jocelin of Salisbury, timid and self-indulgent ; 
Hilary of Chichester, vain and garrulous ; Roger 
of Worcester, simple, manly, obstinate, unlearned : 
these are the chief among the ecclesiastical officers 
of the land. Below them there are a herd of bishops, 
deans, canons, monks, who are swayed to and fro 
by the news, or the danger, that comes their way ; 
but who veer steadily towards the king's side, from 
that conservatism, that dread of thinking evil of 
dignities, which has ever been an ingrained character 
and often so beneficially of the English Church, 
but which led them, as in some other ways, into 
time-serving, greediness of promotion, unwillingness 
to pay the cost of uprightness. Yet, then as always, 
men who served both Church and State could still 
preserve their honour and their faith : Ralf de Diceto 
was an example of the success, as John of Oxford of 
the failure, to serve both the king and the cause of 


On the other side was the small band of Becket's 
friends, small in England because persecuted almost 
out of existence, but stronger overseas because wel- 
comed at foreign courts as men who suffered for 
principle, and men, too, of wisdom and wit, leaders 
of thought or examples of piety. From these came 
many of the biographers of the archbishop, as from 
them came a great mass of the correspondence which 
agitated the palaces and monasteries of Europe during 
the years of strife. No more gracious figure is there 
among them than the gentle, kindly, wise, John of 
Poitiers, and none more expressive of the best thought 
of the time than John of Salisbury, political philoso- 
pher and ecclesiastic, brilliant writer and man of 
sound judgment and true heart. All these, and many 
more, scores of writers and thinkers and men of 
action who filled a great place in the history of their 
day, revolved, for some part of their lives, round the 
central personage whose changeful and dramatic life 
filled men's minds and hearts for generations after 
he was on men's lips as " second after the king in 
four realms." 

Of Becket himself, in spite of all the records, and 
after centuries of discussion, it is still more difficult 
to judge than of any of his contemporaries. But as 
his life unfolds itself in his own letters and in the 
memorials of his friends it is not difficult to see a 
personality of striking force, which it is easy to mis- 
judge, and which lends itself almost obstinately to 
harsh criticism. Thomas Becket was a strong man 
and a genuine man, not so strong perhaps as his master 
and enemy, but vastly more sincere. What his mind 
saw to do he did with all his might ; and wherever 
what seemed to be the voice of duty called him there 


unflinchingly he went. When he was the king's 
servant he obeyed his master implicitly and trusted 
his judgment more absolutely than he trusted his own ; 
but criticisms and objections of others, good clerks 
and saintly men though they might be, he passed by 
as the idle wind. So when he became archbishop. He 
had already an ideal of what a primate should be, how 
absolutely he should be devoted to the interests of 
the Church, how meekly and resolutely he should 
be set to deny himself and to walk humbly, as monks 
walked, in the way of the Lord. But humility he 
always found hard to learn : he was too eager to know 
what was right, too vehement to do it, to consider 
into what paths of personal assertion the call might 
seem to lead him. Of conscious striving to assume 
a character which he did not really possess, a minute 
and unprejudiced study finds it quite impossible to 
accuse him. He never dreamed of playing a part 
as an actor plays one : a character seemed to be set 
upon him by his consecration, and he yielded 
not without hesitations and restlessness to its 
impress. He deliberately and painfully set himself, 
not to assume a part, not to qualify for a position, 
but to accept what the ecclesiastical theories of his 
age, exclusive, ascetic, separatist, set up before him. 

Out of the lives of the saints which he read, and out His ideal 
of the stress of conflict in which he found himself ^. his 
involved, there seemed to rise the vision of a character, 
determined, ascetic yet humane, gentle towards the 
weak, but unyielding to the proud, which took Christ 
for Ruler and Captain, perhaps even more than for 
Example and Pattern. There was the ideal, and 
towards the making of it went the histories of holy 
men and the memories of his own predecessors Old 



Testament heroes, the Apostles Paul and Peter, popes 
like Hildebrand, primates like Lanfranc as well as 
like Anselm. It was hard for Becket's own stubborn 
nature to fit itself into the mould ; but he tried with 
all his might and main to make himself worthy. 

Though he had a personal charm of manner, of 
brightness and affectionateness, which attracted men 
to him and fixed their friendship as years went on into 
a real devotion, he never conquered an abruptness, 
an impetuosity, a passionate assertiveness which 
made him bitter enemies. He had a warm and true 
heart : pity that he wore it on his sleeve. An utter 
contrast to Henry of Anjou, Thomas Becket could 
never suppress or even conceal his emotions : it 
seemed to him a sort of disloyalty to truth to attempt 
it. Acutely sensitive in mind as in his power of 
hearing, Becket was one of those men who suffer 
inevitably in the judgment of those who disagree 
with their opinions. Sometimes, as he did, they 
arouse bitter animosities ; always they lead hard lives. 

Becket's hard life was now drawing towards its end. 
On the first day of December, 1170, it seemed as if 
his troubles were over and he had come to his own 
land in peace. For ensign his ship bore the primatial 
cross, set up as it drew nigh to land. The fisher-folk 
and the poor of Sandwich saw the holy sign and 
gathered to the beach ; they ran into the water to 
draw the boat to land ; they knelt on the shingle 
among the waves to beg their archbishop's blessing 
one lad among them, George, by name, remembered 
it in after years, says William of Canterbury : some 
wept, and many cried, " Blessed is the father of 
orphans, the judge of widows, blessed is he that 
cometh in the name of the Lord ! " 


But hardly had he landed when there was a rude The return 
contrast to the affection of the poor. The sheriff * Cantef - 
of Kent, Reginald of Warenne, and Ranulf de Broc, 
who had come from Dover, where they had seen the 
excommunicated bishops, beset the primate, de- 
manded that the bishops should be absolved, and, but 
for the sympathetic crowd and the judicious modera- 
tion of John of Oxford, might have attempted 
violence. The archbishop made a quick and dignified 
protest, and they went away. 

The next morning the primate went the six miles 
to Canterbury. It was a triumphal procession. 

" When it was known at Canterbury that the 
archbishop had landed," says William Fitz-Stephen, l 
" they all in the city rejoiced from the least to the 
greatest. They decorated the Cathedral. They put 
on silks and costly raiment. They prepared a great 
feast for many people. The archbishop was received 
in solemn procession. The church resounded with 
hymns and music, the hall with rejoicing, the city 
everywhere with fulness of joy." 

Herbert of Bosham tells that as he drew nigh to the 
city he was received as a lamb for a burnt offering, 
or as an angel sent from heaven, with ovation or with 
prayer. Herbert loves these quaintnesses of speech. 
" But why do I say with ovation ? Rather Christ's 
poor received him as the Lord's anointed. So 
wherever the archbishop passed crowds of poor, 
small and great, old and young, ran together, some 
throwing themselves in his way, others taking their 
garments and strewing them in the way, crying and 
exclaiming, ' Blessed is he that cometh in the name 
of the Lord.' Likewise the parish priests with their 

1 Materials, iii, 119. 


flocks met him in procession with their crosses, 
saluting their father, and, begging his blessing, called 
out again that oft-repeated cry, ' Blessed is he that 
cometh in the name of the Lord.' . . . You would 
have said, had you seen, that the Lord a second time 
approached His Passion, and that among the children 
and the poor and the rejoicing people again He Who 
died once at Jerusalem for the salvation of the 
whole world was now again ready to die at Canterbury 
for the English Church. And though the way was 
short yet among the thronging and pressing crowds 
scarce in that day could he reach Canterbury, where 
he was received with the sound of trumpets, with 
psalms and hymns and spiritual songs by the poor of 
Christ, his children, and by his holy monastery with 
the reverence and veneration due to their father." 

He passed barefoot through the streets and went 
straight to the cathedral church. " Then," con- 
tinues Herbert, " might you see at his first coming 
into the cathedral the face of this man, which many 
seeing marked and wondered at, for it seemed as 
though his heart aflame showed also in his face." 

In the choir he received the monks, one by one, 
giving them the kiss of peace ; he had prepared the 
way by sending John of Salisbury to absolve and 
reconcile those who had communicated with ex- 
communicates during his absence. Herbert said to 
him, " Now, my lord, it is no matter when you depart 
hence, for in you to-day the Bride of Christ has won 
the victory. Christ conquers, Christ reigns, Christ 
rules." The archbishop looked on him, but answered 

Then in the chapter-house he preached a sermon, 
says Fitz-Stephen. " He preached a most instructive 


sermon, taking for text, ' Here we have no continuing 
city, but we seek one to come.' " 1 

The next day came the sheriff of Kent with Ranulf The 
de Broc and others, clerk and lay, and they demanded hostility 
the absolution of the bishops against whom, they said, * th , e 
he had plotted. He answered, in a phrase he had friends, 
often used, that they wished to drink his blood, " and 
they will " ; but absolve them he could not without 
the customary oath. This their emissaries, taking 
stand on the Constitutions, refused. So they 
departed unsatisfied ; and the archbishop of York 
said he would spend money lavishly at the papal 
court to overwhelm his rival. 

After a week at Canterbury Becket determined to 
see the young Henry, "his old pupil. He sent to him 
three destriers, whose beauty Fitz-Stephen eulogises, 
and prepared to follow the propitiatory gift. During 
the latter part of 1170 the young king was at Win- 
chester. Becket sent Richard, prior of Dover 
(afterwards archbishop) to see him there, but he 
refused to see the archbishop. The lad had his 
father's orders, and he was weak enough himself. 
As " Benedict of Peterborough " says later, he was 
like wax. It was a bitter blow. Becket was ordered 
to return to Canterbury. Already he had passed 
through Rochester, where Walter, the brother of his 
old patron, Theobald, and once archdeacon of 
Canterbury, received him with stately welcome, and 
came to South wark, to the palace of Henry of Win- 
chester, where crowds of visitors, clerk and lay, made 
him a kind of court. In the midst of this triumph 
it was startling to meet with a rebuff from the young 
king whose father had represented him as so warmly 

1 Heb. xiii, 14. 


his friend. It was a sign that the old king had still 
a strong political party at his back and that the 
archbishop was never to be forgiven by the partizans 
of the Constitutions. Already a woman in Southwark 
had cried out, " Archbishop, beware of the knife." 

He returned to Canterbury. On the way he stayed 
at his manor of Harrow, where first he had come to 
Theobald. Friends came freely to him, among them 
the rich and generous abbat of S. Albans, who paid 
on his behalf another ineffectual visit to the young 
Henry. Gladly, said the primate, would he have 
spent Christmas in the abbey of the first English 
martyr : the record of his last sayings to their ruler 
was kept in the great abbey. But foes were equally 
active. Ranulf de Broc had seized a ship-load of 
French wines sent to him and beaten and imprisoned 
the sailors ; but an order from the young Henry 
caused amends to be made. When he was again at 
Canterbury the nobles kept away from him, and the 
Brocs attacked and beat his men, stole his deer, robbed 
his convoys of provisions, and insulted him by cutting 
off the tail of one of his poor tenant's horses. 
Last letter i n the midst of his petty vexations he wrote a letter 
Pope. * t* 16 Pope : l it was his last, or at least his last 

on any matter of personal concern. He told the 
whole tale of his return, and of the trouble that he 
found awaiting him ; and he ended by repeating 
the justification of his action with regard to the 
excommunicated prelates : " That the same bishops 
had before been excommunicated by me, and had not 
obtained absolution, though they had besought with 
much solicitation, until they had taken this oath. 
And if my sentence could not be dissolved without 
1 Materials, vii, 401. 


an oath from the bishops, much less could yours which 
was far stronger and incomparably more potent than 
mine or any other mortal power. At which answer 
(so those who were present told me) the bishops were 
so much moved that they decided to come to me and 
to receive absolution after the manner of the Church, 
not considering it safe that they should for the sake 
of preserving the customs of the realm impugn the 
apostolic decrees. But that enemy of peace and 
disturber of the Church, the archbishop of York, 
dissuaded them, counselling that they should go to 
the king, who was their protector, and send messen- 
gers to the young king that I intended to depose him, 
when, God is my witness, if he were well-disposed 
to the Church, I would rather that he had not one 
realm only but the largest and the most of any king 
on earth. My archdeacon was the ensign bearer of 
this legation, since the archbishop of York and the 
two bishops hasted to cross the sea that they might 
win over the king and excite his anger against the 
Church. And they caused to be summoned six clergy 
of the vacant sees that in the king's presence by 
their counsel, contrary to the canons, and in a foreign 
land, in the absence of their brethren, the election 
to the vacant bishoprics in my province should be 
made. But if I refuse to consecrate those so elected, 
they will have an occasion of sowing discord between 
me and the king. For there is nothing which they 
fear more than the peace of the Church, lest perchance 
their works should be seen and their excesses corrected. 
My messenger will supply many things which for the 
sake of brevity I have not inserted in this letter. May 
it please you favourably to hear my petition. My 
dearest father, may your holiness ever fare well." 



Day, 1170. 

Farewell to 
Herbert of 

So the Christmas festival came on. 1 Warnings 
came to him from every quarter, but he would never 
again leave his diocese. He resumed the habits of 
his first days as archbishop, sitting in his court as 
judge, and going to the choir offices in the cathedral 
church. On Christmas Eve he celebrated mass at 
midnight. Again he celebrated high mass on the 
festival itself and preached on the Vulgate text, 
" On earth peace to men of good will." It was a 
contrast to the absence of peace where men's wills 
were evil ; and he spoke of the martyr whom Canter- 
bury had already produced, S. Alphege, and declared 
that it might not be long before there was another. 
Then he indignantly denounced the men of evil will, 
and ended by excommunicating the brothers Broc for 
their outrages, and two clerks for their seizure of his 
churches of Harrow and Throwley. Says Herbert 

" Truly had you seen these things you would have 
said that you saw face to face that animal of the 
prophet's vision, with the face of a lion and the face 
of a man." The day ended with peaceful festivity. 
" He who had shown himself so devout at the Lord's 
Table showed himself happy, as was his wont, at the 
table of this world ; and it being the Feast of the 
Nativity, though a Friday, he partook of meat as on 
another day, thus showing that at such a festival it 
was more religious to eat than to abstain." 

It was the last time the faithful Herbert was to 
be at his side. On S. Stephen's Day the master called 
" the disciple who wrote these things " and told him 
to go to the Prankish king and the archbishop of 

1 For the last days of Becket and the martyrdom there is 
no more vivid picture, nor (on the whole) any so careful and 
complete as that of Dean Stanley's Memorials of Canterbury, 
which I have had constantly at hand while writing these pages. 


Sens and tell them what fate had befallen their friend 
how there was no peace but rather war. Herbert 
could not keep back his tears, and said, " If I go 
I know that I shall see thee in the flesh no more. I 
was determined to abide faithfully with thee, and 
now thou seekest to deprive me of my share in thine 
end, who have been with thee in thy temptations : 
now I shall not be a sharer of thy glory who have been 
a sharer of thy woe." 

Becket answered, also with tears : " Not so, my 
son, not so ; thou shalt not be deprived of the fruit, 
who fulfillest the command of thy father, and dost 
follow his counsel. Nevertheless what thou sayest 
and mournest is true indeed, that thou shalt see me 
in the flesh no more ; and nevertheless I will that thou 
depart, especially because the king hath thee in the 
cause of the Church more suspect than the rest." 

On S. John Evangelist's Day they parted for the 
last time. With Herbert went Llewelyn, the candid 

Meanwhile the bishops had gone to the king, and The king's 
Roger of Pont l'Eve*que (says Fitz-Stephen) had told rash words, 
him that he would never have peace so long as 
Thomas lived. Henry burst forth in rage. " Fools 
and dastards have I nominated in my realm who 
are faithless to their lord and none of them will 
avenge him on this low clerk." It was not the first 
time he had said such words, but now there were men 
at hand who would act on this. Four knights of the 
household, Reginald Fitz-Urse, William de Tracy, 
Hugh de Morville, Reginald le Breton, set off in- 
stantly, urged, says Gamier, by Roger of York. They 
arrived by different ways, at the archbishop's castle 
of Saltwood, now occupied by the Brocs, on the Holy 




29th, 1170. 

Innocents' Day. The king sent after them to stop 
them, and with his message despatched an order for 
the arrest of the archbishop. But on the next day 
they were at Canterbury with a band of followers, 
collected in the king's name. Clarembald, abbat of 
S. Augustine's, received them into his house. All 
night they had sat planning their work. They were 
ready to execute it. A citizen came to the archbishop 
to warn him. He answered, " They will find me ready 
to die. Let them do as they will. I know that I 
shall die a death of violence ; but they shall not kill 
me outside my church." 

About four o'clock in the afternoon the knights 
" non jam milites, sed miseri ac miser abiles " came 
to the palace. Dinner was over, the archbishop had 
withdrawn into an inner room and was at business, but 
a crowd still lingered in the hall. The knights were 
politely welcomed and the servants offered them food. 
It was scornfully rejected, and they demanded to see 
the archbishop. 

They were admitted, and found him sitting on a 
couch. He had prepared himself, men thought 
afterwards, for his end. He had said matins at 
midnight in his own room, and then looking out of the 
window had asked if he could reach Sandwich by 
daybreak. Easily, he was told ; but then they heard 
him say, " God's will be done : Thomas will wait on 
God's ordering in his own church." He had been 
present at mass and visited all the altars, made his 
confession to the Benedictine Thomas of Maidstone, 
and had thrice undergone the discipline. Besides 
this, there was that terrible scourge which the strange 
ascetism of the age advised, the hair shirt, which he 
wore with its moving life. At dinner he had eaten 



pheasant, and a monk had remarked on his cheerful- 
ness. He answered, " One who must go to his Maker 
should needs be cheerful." It was a saying which 
a few hours later bore a new interpretation. One 
writer adds that he had drunk more wine than usual, 
and when it was quietly whispered to him, said, " He 
who must lose much blood, must needs drink much 
wine." The knights were admitted. Then let 
Edward Grim, who had but recently come to him 
from Cambridge and was now with him till the last, 
tell the story, with comments and additions which we 
may glean from others 

" They sat for a long time in silence and did not The 
salute the archbishop or speak to him. Nor did the demands 
man of wise counsel salute them immediately they nights. 
came in, that according to the Scripture, ' By thy 
words thou shalt be justified,' he might discover their 
intentions from their questions. After awhile, how- 
ever, he turned to them, and carefully scanning the 
face of each one he greeted them in a friendly manner, 
but the wretches, who had made a treaty with death, 
answered his greeting with curses, and ironically 
prayed that God might help him. At this speech 
of bitterness and malice the man of God coloured 
deeply, now seeing that they had come for his hurt." 

Fitz-Urse said they had a message from the King. 
Becket had sent away his clerks, but now he called 
them back, that all might hear. In the moment 
when the knights were alone with him the thought 
came to one of them to kill him with the shaft of his 
primatial cross, but the others returned quickly. 
Then Fitz-Urse reproached the archbishop for the 
excommunications, and said that they proved that 
he would take away the crown from the young king. 

17 (2216) 


Becket said that rather would he wish him all the 
crowns of the earth and help him to win them by 
right and justice. Nor was there cause of offence 
in that his people had welcomed him so warmly and 
followed him in crowds. Even now he was ready to 
satisfy the king in all things, but he had forbidden 
him his presence. But the excommunications he 
could not take off : he could not loose those whom 
the Pope had bound. Then they said it was the 
king's command that he should depart from the 
kingdom with all his men. He answered: " Let your 
threats cease and your wranglings be stilled. I trust 
in the King of Heaven, Who for His own suffered on 
the Cross : for from this day no one shall see the sea 
between me and my church. I came not to fly ; 
here he who wants me shall find me. And it befits 
not the king so to command ; sufficient are the 
insults which I and mine have had from the king's 
men, without more threats." 

" You have basely followed your own passion and 
turned out of the Church his servants. We will 
stand by our lord's orders," was their answer. 

He said, " No one shall have mercy at my hands 
who disobeys the orders of the Roman see or the laws 
of the Church of Christ, and," he added, " I wonder 
at you, who are bound to me " ; for Fitz-Urse, Tracy, 
and Morville had been his men. 

Then they rose angrily to their feet and said, " You 
have spoken in peril of your head." 

" Come you to kill me ? " he answered. " I have 
committed my cause to the Judge of all ; I am not 
moved by threats, and as your swords are ready so 
is my soul for martyrdom. Seek him who flies : I 
stand firm in the Lord's battle." 



They went out, Fitz-Urse calling on all to hold the 
archbishop that he might not escape. He said, 
" Here, here shall you find me," laying his hand on 
his neck. 

The monks urged him to fly, while the knights, Ves ef 
binding his porter and one of his armed men, had in the 
gone into the city to collect soldiers and weapons. Cathedral 
John of Salisbury said, " You will never take anyone's v 
counsel. Why must you make them more angry 
by following them to the door ? " 

" What would you have me do ? I have already 
taken counsel, and I know what I ought to do. 
We must all die, and the fear of death must not 
turn us from righteousness. I am more ready to die 
for God and righteousness, and the Church's liberty 
than they are to kill me." 

The doors had been barred when the knights went 
out, but they found their way back through the 
orchard by another way. But he went calmly, 
waiting even for his cross to be carried before him by 
a clerk of Auxerre, to vespers in the cathedral church. 
The private door, not often used, that led from the 
palace to the cloisters, was found closed : the court 
was filled with armed men, so they did not go in the 
usual way. But two cellarmen of the monastery 
opened the door from within, and the crowd of clerks 
hurried the archbishop on. He went along the north 
side of the cloisters, then the east and for a moment 
detached himself from the pressure by going into the 
chapter house and so by the door of the north 
transept below the steps which led up into the choir. 

The service was being sung, but it was interrupted Becket 
by boys who cried out that soldiers were breaking doo^tVbe 
into the monastery and the palace. Many of the closed. 


monks fled ; but the archbishop, still standing 
outside, commanded them to go on with the service. 
They fell back from the doorway, and, asking what 
they feared, he turned back to see the armed men 
who, the terrified crowd cried out, were in the cloisters. 
" I will go out to them," he said. As he spoke the 
knights rushed along the south side of the cloisters. 
In spite of his protests the monks clapped to the door, 
and barred it, leaving outside some of the clerks who 
h,d followed him, and tried to drag the primate up 
ii. .o the choir. He broke from them and called out 
loudly, " Away, ye cowards ! On your obedience 
I charge you not to shut the door : the Church must 
not be made into a castle." He opened the door 
himself, and called in the monks " Come in, quicker, 
quicker ! " and then turned to meet his murderers. 
Fitz-Stephen tells how of all his clerks only three 
stood by him : Robert of Merton, the oldest of his 
friends, Edward Grim, and Fitz-Stephen himself. It 
was five o'clock on a winter night, and the others 
easily hid themselves in the darkness : so, they 
thought, might he do in the hiding-places they had 
shown him. But he stood quite unmoved. The door 
was open, and the knights, with Hugh of Horse a, 
a degraded clerk, rushed in. 

As they came the three friends were urging the 
archbishop up the steps from the transept on the 
western stairway which leads into the choir. At the 
murderers. sou th-west of the transept where he stood, and which 
still, though altered, remains in much of its old 
features and now bears the name of " the martyr- 
dom," was the altar of the Blessed Virgin, at the 
east end of the north aisle of the nave ; at the east 
end of the chapel the altar of S. Benedict ; and in the 


middle was a pillar, which supported the gallery above 
leading to the chapel of S. Blasius. There, as they 
Stood in the gathering darkness, let Edward Grim, 
one of the faithful three who stood by their lord, 
again take up the tale 1 

" Inspired by fury the knights called out, ' Where 
is Thomas Becket, traitor to the king and realm ? ' wor ds. 
As he answered not, they cried out the more furiously, 
' Where is the archbishop ? ' At this, intrepid and 
fearless, as it is written, ' The just, like a bold lion, 
shall be without fear,' he descended from the stair 
where he had been dragged by the monks in fear of the 
knights, and in a clear voice answered, ' I am here, no 
traitor to the king, but a priest. Why do ye seek 
me ? ' And whereas he had already said that he 
feared them not, he added, ' So I am ready to suffer 
in His name Who redeemed me by His Blood : be it 
far from me to flee from your swords, or to depart 
from justice.' Having thus said, he turned to the 
right, under a pillar, having on one side the altar of 
the blessed Mother of God and ever Virgin Mary, on 
the other that of S. Benedict the Confessor : by whose 
example and prayers, having crucified the world with 
its lusts, he bore all that the murderers could do 
with such constancy of soul as if he had been no 
longer in the flesh. The murderers followed him : 
' Absolve,' they cried, ' and restore to communion 
those whom you have excommunicated, and restore 
their powers to those whom you have suspended.' 
He answered : ' There has been no satisfaction, and 
I will not absolve them.' ' Then you shall die,' they 

1 Materials, ii, 431 sqq. I follow the translation which I 
gave in my Bampton Lectures, The English Saints, pp. 258 
sqq. (second edition), with a few words altered. 


cried, ' and receive what you deserve.' ' I am 
ready,' he replied, ' to die for my Lord, that in my 
blood the Church may obtain liberty and peace. But 
in the name of Almighty God, I forbid you to hurt 
my people whether clerk or lay.' "... 

They wished to avoid the guilt of sacrilege, but 
they could not drag him from the pillar to which he 
clung ; they had thought to kill him outside the 
Church, or as they afterwards said to make a 
prisoner of him. They tried to put him on Tracy's 
shoulders, and so drag him out, but he resisted and 
Grim held him in his arms. The strong archbishop, 
strong still as when he unhorsed the knight at Tou- 
louse, threw Tracy on the pavement. In vain cried 
Fitz-Urse, " Come with us, you are our prisoner." 
" I will not come, abominable wretch," was the 
answer; and with the word of shame, "pander," the 
archbishop adjured him not to touch his lord to whom 
he owed fealty. In fierce rage Reginald waved his 
sword and cried " Strike ! " 

Grim thus continues : " Then the unconquered 
martyr, seeing the hour at hand which should put an 
end to this miserable life and give him straightway 
the crown of immortality promised by the Lord, 
inclined his neck as one who prays, and joining his 
hands he lifted them up, and commended his cause 
and that of the Church to God, to S. Mary, and to 
the blessed martyr Denys. Scarce had he said the 
words than the wicked knight, fearing lest he should 
be rescued by the people and escape alive, leapt upon 
him suddenly and wounded this lamb who was 
sacrificed to God on the head, cutting off the top of 
the crown which the sacred unction of the chrism had 
dedicated to God ; and by the same blow he wounded 


the arm of him who tells this. For he, when the 

others, both monks and clerks, fled, stuck close to the 

sainted archbishop and held him in his arms till the 

one he interposed was almost severed. . . . Then 

he received a second blow on the head, but still stood 

firm. At the third blow he fell on his knees and 

elbows, offering himself a living victim, and saying 

in a low voice, ' For the name of Jesus and the 

protection of the Church I am ready to embrace 

death.' Then the third knight inflicted a terrible 

wound as he lay, by which the sword was broken 

against the pavement, and the crown, which was The 

large, was separated from the head ; so that the mart yr dom - 

blood, white with the brain and the brain red with 

blood, dyed the surface of the virgin mother Church 

with the life and death of the confessor and martyr 

in the colours of the lily and the rose. The fourth 

knight prevented any from interfering so that the 

others might freely perpetrate the murder. As to the 

fifth, no knight but that clerk who had entered with 

the knights, that a fifth blow might not be wanting 

to the martyr who was in other things like unto Christ, 

put his foot on the neck of the holy priest and precious 

martyr, and, horrible to tell, scattered his brains and 

blood over the pavement, calling out to the rest, 

' Let us away, knights ; he will rise no more.' ' 

So the vigorous life was ended, and the strong soul, 
struggling almost to the last, was taken to the 
judgment of God. Over the city burst a great storm 
of thunder and lightning, and men's hearts failed 
them for fear. 

The hours of horror and dismay that followed need 
not here be told. The knights fled, at first in triumph, 
afterwards, men said, in shame and remorse. Strange 



tales were told of their after life, due most of them to 
the imagination of the people, or the monks, who 
would not let such murderers live the ordinary life 
or die the common death of men. 

When terror had at length subsided the monks 
took the body of their archbishop, marvelling at the 
sign of his asceticism which they discovered, and at 
the calm beauty of the face, as it were asleep with 
a calm smile on the lips. They collected some of the 
blood in little vessels : already a citizen had dipped 
a cloth in it, as the holy relic of a saint. A red glow 
from heaven, the Northern Light, hung over the great 
church and lighted up the choir where the body had 
been laid, and men thought they saw the right hand 
of the martyr raised in blessing of those whom he had 
left to be witnesses of his fate. 

The next day the body was buried in the crypt, in 
December a new marble tomb, behind the altar of the Blessed 
30th, 1170. Virgin, and not far, it seems, from the tomb of 
S. Dunstan. 1 No mass was said : the altars were 
S Thorn stripped, and for a year no voice of public prayer 
was heard in the great cathedral church where the 
blood of its archbishop had been shed. 

1 See Dart's History and Antiq. of the Cathedral Church 
of Canterbury, 1726, and appendix in Vol. II, of Fr. Morris's 
Life of S. Thomas. 

The burial, 



No one can follow the life of Becket without feeling 

that it is open to criticism at every point. The character 

attempt to make of such a character a " plaster of Thomas 

saint " fails utterly. He was violent, impetuous, Becket. 

resentful of injuries, impatient of opposition, bitter 

in tongue, stubborn in heart. But the conception of 

saintliness which involves impeccability is utterly 

foreign to the Christian idea ; still less is it consistent 

with Christian history that one who is considered 

to have been a martyr should have lived a whole life 

of holiness. Becket was canonised within three years 

of his death, and no canonisation in English history 

was ever so popular, while none was more strictly 

justified according to the rules of the Western Church 

before the Reformation. 

The archbishop who laid down his life on December 
29th, 1170, was a brave strong man, who had lived 
a strenuous life. He was as sensitive as he was 
courageous. He had great personal influence, great 
power of fascination. But it was not these things, 
or the high place he filled during his years of power, 
that made him so famous for four centuries after his 
death. Rather did he become a popular English 
hero, and a maker of national history, because he 
was believed to have fought a good fight for the right, 
and to have died rather than yield. 

To-day in England we have no sympathy with 
clerical separatism. Henry's ideal, of the equality 


of all men before the law, is ours. But the achieve- 
ment of personal liberty, the establishment of con- 
stitutional rule as we know it, is very largely the 
result of the struggles of the Middle Ages for class 
privilege. There is no reason to suppose that the 
generality of mankind had a greater affection for the 
ministers of religion in the twelfth century than they 
have to-day. If the power of the clergy seemed 
greater then, it was open to abrupt exceptions and 
conclusions which have as certainly passed away. 
But clerical privilege, the right to be tried in separate 
courts, to make special rules in separate assemblies 
and to make them binding on the highest in the land, 
seemed to men then not an unreasonable claim, and 
it even became, as in Becket's days, a popular cry, 
because it was merged in the claim of liberty for each 
different class. Merchants, lawyers, villeins, barons, 
felt themselves in danger of being stifled by an 
overmastering central power, the power of an un- 
restrained and arbitrary king. Such a danger could 
only be averted by the struggle of each class in turn. 
And the Church alone could fight with any prospect 
of success, for it alone had a solidarity in different 
lands, and could invoke forces in its support which 
would prevent its isolation in one small quarter of 
the globe. If the barons tried to conquer, to rule 
men as they willed, they discovered that that was 
a game which the king also could play, and generally 
could play better. They could not resist him when 
they were alone. Still less could other classes, save 
only the estate of the Church. Thus it was that the 
poor looked to the Church for protection : her ideals 
were utterly different from those of the other classes, 
and when she rose to them men found shelter against 


oppression under the covering of her wings. Slowly 
by her action in defence of her own claims she made 
national liberty possible. So Stephen Langton, one 
of the heroes of English Liberty, who gave to Magna 
Carta what it had of national beneficence, found in 
Becket a predecessor whom he delighted to honour. 
So the citizens of London when they stood up against 
the kings called upon his name, as their fellow-citizen 
and the champion of liberty. And so Thomas of 
Canterbury ranked in the minds of men, for genera- 
tions, as one of the makers of national history, because 
he had striven, as they thought, for freedom, the 
freedom which was won so gradually and as the 
result of so many struggles. Political liberty seemed 
to owe its origin not a little to ecclesiastical claims ; 
but when it was won it could not tolerate any 
exceptional treatment of a class which might seem 
to substitute exclusiveness for freedom. 

Becket had claimed rights for the Church as 
against the State. The claim, whether right or J f th e r 
wrong, was simple enough in regard to Church courts Spiritualty, 
and Church property ; it was a claim as to which 
good men and wise men might at that day think 
differently. But it was not for this claim simply 
that Becket died. He died because he refused to take 
off a sentence of excommunication at the command of 
men who threatened his life. Whether the sentence 
was originally right or wrong does not enter into the 
question : no one can doubt that Becket, however 
wilfully, thought it right. But unquestionably it was 
within the spiritual not the secular sphere. BossjAet / (jf^ 
seized the real point when he declared in his sermon 
on S. Thomas that the discipline as well as the faith 
of the Church needed martyrs. The contention of 


the archbishop was that terms of communion can 
only be settled by the Church with which communion 
is held : they cannot be laid down by the State, whose 
province does not touch men's souls : still less can 
they be dictated by individuals. Here modern 
sentiment and modern judgment must be entirely 
on the archbishop's side. The Church must have 
as much right to fix its own limits as the State has 
to enforce its own obligations. If Anselm was right 
in the contest concerning ecclesiastical investitures, 
Becket was right in the contest concerning 
ecclesiastical censures. Thus, he took his place, by 
the insistent approbation of his contemporaries, 
among the saints of the English Church. 
The The claim to saintliness in the Middle Age was 

attestation inevitably involved in an atmosphere of miracle, 
of miracles. _, f -n i * ' nr 

The age of Becket was an age of wonders. Men saw 

portents in the sky, in strange conjunction of events, 
in tales of hearsay that took on wonders as they passed 
from mouth to mouth like the green children whom 
William of Newburgh, a man of most sound judgment, 
records to have appeared in his day. It has been 
well said that the men of those days looked for the 
supernatural to explain all events, however simple, 
and would have thought it impious to do otherwise. 
The step from this to belief that the goodness of a 
good cause must be attested by miracles is not a 
long one. Thus, within a very short time of the 
murder of Becket, a number of cures took place at 
Canterbury, and they were attributed to his merits. 
Drops of his blood, diluted with much water, were 
stored in bottles to give to the sick ; and results which 
modern knowledge of psychology does not suffer us 
to consider impossible were declared to have followed. 


Now at first there was no glory but rather danger 
to be apprehended from a declaration that the saint- 
liness of the murdered man was proved by miracles. 
" In the spring of 1171 no one dared to mention the 
miracles abroad." l Soldiers of the Brocs guarded 
the gates and bridges to watch those who came as 
pilgrims to the cathedral. It was the poor folk of 
Canterbury who gradually made them known : they 
" persisted, so to speak, in being cured, at a time 
when such cure was unfashionable or even 
dangerous." 2 

The first portents were visions. Thrice the saint Visions, 
appeared to Benedict of Canterbury. It was while 
still even in the monastery of his own cathedral some 
doubted, as Grim tells us, whether he ought to be 
regarded as a martyr, " having been slain as the 
reward of his own obstinacy." On the third day 
after the murder a Sussex knight's wife appealing to 
Becket as Saint Thomas, found her sight, which had 
been affected by weakness, restored to her and in six 
days she was able to rise from her bed. 

By Easter time miraculous cures had become Cures. 
common, and within a few months they grew from 
what might easily be explained to what it is impos- 
sible to believe. Imagination gave place to inven- 
tion. But still there remained the mysterious 
influence of a great personality, acting on the faith 
of men, and working effectively in a way which it 
is mere question-begging either to describe as 
supernatural or to explain by credulity or superstition. 

1 Dr. Edwin A. Abbott, S. Thomas of Canterbury, his 
Death and Miracles, Vol. I, p. 223, a work of the greatest 
interest which in some respects I closely follow in the pages 
dealing with the miracles. 






Within three or four years, a biographer was able 
to write that " The glory of the noble martyr to-day 
far surpasses the insults he formerly endured. So 
much are the towns and villages, the castles and 
cottages, throughout England all affected by it, that 
nearly everyone from the least to the greatest desires 
to visit and honour his sepulchre. The same spirit 
of devotion has attracted thither clerics and laymen, 
poor and rich, the common people and nobles, fathers 
and mothers with their children, masters with their 
servants. On the roads leading to Canterbury, in 
the hostelries and inns, one constantly sees as eager 
crowds as on the public market days in the largest 
cities. By night no less than day, in winter as well 
as summer, travellers continue to come, and it even 
seems that the more severe the season is, the greater 
the pleasure they find in accomplishing their 
pilgrimage." x Already the famous Canterbury 
pilgrimage was begun. 

The occurrences at Canterbury, the healing of the 
sick by the merits of S. Thomas, and the cures 
effected by Canterbury water, are beyond the scope 
of biography. 2 With no scepticism of explanation, 
which modern science would condemn as foolish, 
we may simply assert that in most discussions of the 

1 " Anonymus Lambethensis " in Materials, ii, 140, 141 
(paraphrased). The date of this is unfixed, but as Henry's 
reconciliation at Avranches, 1172, is mentioned but not 
his pilgrimage to Canterbury, July, 1174, and the author is 
stated to have been an eye-witness of the murder, the work 
may reasonably be considered to be of about the date 
suggested above. 

3 For the subject of medieval miracles in general I may 
venture to refer the reader to The English Saints (Bampton 
Lectures, 1903), appendix to lecture vi, pp. 277-298, second 


matter we have the old confusion on the subject of 
the supernatural. Bishop Butler has long ago told 
the world that man's ideas of what is natural or 
supernatural are relative to his knowledge of the 
works of God. We are as yet only on the fringe of 
the vast subject of mysterious cures. If we cannot 
idly brush them away as " faith-healing," it is because 
we do not in the least know what " faith-healing " is. 
The history of the miracles of S. Thomas has its 
modern parallel yet not an exact parallel in the 
nineteenth century. The declaration that those who 
do not believe a special " miracle " to have been 
wrought in these cases are un-Christian sceptics is 
untrue they are often earnest believers who recog- 
nise their ignorance of much in God's world both of 
nature and grace. We are not atheists because we 
see no reason to believe that God has specially dis- 
tinguished the water of Lourdes and the last fifty 
years of our era. Nor do we cease to be historical 
students because we deal with the miracles of 
S. Thomas as illustrations of the deep influence of his 
life, and death, his character and his principles. 

It had been asked, " Did the miracles result from Tt, e origin 
the man or from the circumstances ? " 1 Was it the of the 
nature of his death that brought the miracles ? If miracles - 
he had died in his bed, he as mere archbishop Thomas 
Becket, it is said, " would have rested, an unhelpful 
corpse, with other commonplace corpses of ordinary 
archbishops in an un visited grave." 

" This is so far true," says Dr. Abbott, " that we 
must admit at once that Becket, dying an ordinary 
death, would probably not have cured a single spasm 
of rheumatism. But it by no means follows, either 

1 Dr. Abbott, op. cit., ii, 300. 


that other saints would have made up for his defi- 
ciency, or that he is so far to be separated from his 
death that it is to be called an accident instead of an 
act. If Becket had died in his bed, pilgrims might 
still have gone to S. Edmund, S. James, the two 
Apostles in Rome, or the Tomb in Jerusalem ; but it 
would have been in the old slack and (comparatively) 
lifeless and formal way. There is no more reason 
to doubt that Becket caused a religious revival, than 
that Wesley and Whitefield did. The two chroniclers 
of miracles agree in asserting that the miracles brought 
with them an uprising of moral and religious fervour, 
and indirectly prove it by multitudinous details re- 
corded without controversial purpose. It was brief 
indeed, but it was powerful while it lasted. The 
churches built by the archbishop's former enemies 
as well as by his countless worshippers, are outward 
monuments of a strong inward protest against the 
violent and oppressive character often assumed by 
the secular forces of the time or at all events of 
concessions from the strong to the strength of such 
a protest from the weak. It was not the Saxon 
against the Norman, it was the poor and weak op- 
pressed against the rich and strong oppressor, that 
everywhere alike in England and France and 
through the Latin-speaking world rose up in the 
might of S. Thomas the Martyr, and decreed that he 
must be a saint, even before the Papal edict had 
made him one. Most of those healed in the days of 
the earliest miracles have English names. But their 
passionate reverence and their wonder-working faith 
did not arise in their hearts from patriotic motives, 
because they were ' English born.' It was because 
they were wronged or liable to be wronged, that they 


took up the cause for which the New Martyr of the 
English had shed his blood. The Church, though 
sometimes defective and corrupt, was nevertheless 
felt by the poor to be often their only protection 
against outrage, and the martyr typified her 
championing spirit." 1 

The miracles, then, may take their place among the 
signs that Becket conquered, in the great strife with 
the king, by his death, and that he conquered as the 
representative of the people of England. 

Henry's horror when the news reached him was Henry's 
genuine. The description of his frenzied outcry, remorse, 
followed by stupor, which comes to us in a letter 
from Arnulf of Lisieux, reads like a true description 
of the grief of a man so passionate. The interdict 
which followed was not unexpected, nor was the 
penance undeserved. It was not till May, 1172, 
that Henry was admitted to make oath that he had 
never commanded or wished the primate's death, 
though his rash words had occasioned it ; he accepted 
severe terms of reconciliation, and he abandoned 
the Constitutions. 

On February 21st, 1173, the decree of canonisation The 
was issued by Alexander III, and the festival was canonisa- 
fixed for the day of martyrdom. On July 12th, 1 174, tion ' " 73 - 
Henry II did notable penance at the martyr's tomb. 

Further honour was delayed by a great fire (Sep- 
tember 5th, 1174) which destroyed the choir built 
by Conrad, prior in the time of S. Anselm. Then 
William of Sens set to work at the rebuilding, 1175 
to 1 178, which was completed by William the English- The 
man in 1179. The body of the saint had rested in 
the crypt, which remains to-day much as it was bury. 
Ibid., ii, 301. 

18 (2216) 


in medieval phrase on " the day when he was alive 
and dead." The choir was finished in 1184, the new 
cloisters were begun in 1190; in 1220 the corona 
was consecrated and the body was removed to its 
new shrine. From this date the dedication to the 
Holy Trinity became commonly recognised as affixed 
to the whole cathedral church. Allan of Tewkesbury, 
as early as 1185, had urged the Translation to the 
new unfinished chapel of the Blessed Trinity : behind 
this there was the new apse, built in imitation of the 
church of the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem. It was 
this which nowreceived the name of " Becket's Crown," 
and here the body was taken on July 7th, 1220. 

The Icelandic Saga, preserving the impression of 
The trans- an eye-witness, says that : 1 " Concerning this the 
lation, master relateth that he may not tell the number of 

July 7th, t ke mu ititude of folk that assembled on the said day 
at Canterbury, for the city of Canterbury and the 
villages around were so filled with folk that many 
had to abide in tents or under the open sky " ; and the 
assembled monks with the king, Henry III, and 
Stephen Langton, the patriot primate, were " sur- 
rounded by each baron and every kind of mighty 
folk, therewithal bishops, abbats, priors, and other 
states of learned men from different parts. Now, in 
God's name, cometh the third hour of the nones of 
July, at which hour the bishop standeth robed 
together with the other bishops and orders of learned 
men afore-named, who then proceed amidst solemn 
singing down into the crypt where the chest was kept. 
The solemnity with which it was brought thence up 
into the church and was placed over the altar, where 
preparations had been made for it, may be best told 
1 Thomas Saga, ii, 202. 


in these few words, that the Church of Canterbury 
showed forth freely every honour which she could 
do to her father, in bells rung, in song, and vestments, 
not only inside the church, but also in the joyance 
in which the city showed its solemn delight, the King 
and all other folk deeming themselves as partakers 
of a divine gift if they might in any way minister to 
the new festival. It is a matter not soon told, what 
sort of thanksgiving was performed that same day 
for the honour of the blessed Thomas, for that very 
ceremony grew so long for the sake of the offerings 
and the devotion of the people that it seemed as if 
it were never coming to an end at all." 

The shrine itself, 1 which was for three centuries 
to gather to itself the gift of countless pilgrims, the The shrine, 
riches of kings, the offerings of distant nations, was 1220. 
prepared soon after. Of it the Saga 2 tells: "The 
next thing done by lord Stephen, archbishop of 
Canterbury, was that in his devotion he resolved to 
turn the offerings made to the holy Thomas into a 
shrine for him. And when this had been settled 
by the urging of the king and other mighty folk in 
the land, the archbishop procureth for the work the 
greatest master of the craft that could be found 
within those lands. But when the commonalty of 
England got full certainty of this, the love which the 
people owe to S. Thomas was soon revealed, since 
they would hear of his shrine being made of no other 
metal than gold alone, which indeed had to be done. 
Hence the pilgrims to S. Thomas's shrine repeat the 
saw of the English, that after that time England 

1 For the history of the shrine see Wall, The Shrines of 
British Saints, pp. 152 sqq. 
* Thomas Saga, ii, 210. 



never grew so wealthy in gold as before, and for that 
they give thanks to GOD. Now, by their mighty 
cost and choice workmanship, the shrine was the 
most excellent work of art that had ever been seen, 
being set all round with stones, wherever beauty and 
show might thereby be best set off. When the shrine 
was finished the archbishop layeth therein the holy 
relics of the worthy martyr, archbishop Thomas, and 
placed it above the middle of the high altar, only so 
high that it rested on the upper table thereof, one 
face of it pointing eastwards, the other westwards." 

A plain wooden altar marked the place of 
martyrdom in the chapel of S. Benedict. 

So the body rested till the days of Henry VIII, 

The shrine. an< ^ vear ^Y y ear came pilgrims to the shrine. Des- 
criptions, at different dates, show its extraordinary 
richness, the most famous that of Erasmus, only 
fourteen years before it was destroyed. In September, 
1538, came the destruction by order of Thomas 
Cromwell, Vicar-General for the king, possibly after 
a sort of mock trial of the long-buried saint. Two 
months later a proclamation, speaking of Becket 
as a " rebel and traitor to his prince," and a " bearer 
of the iniquity of the clergy," ordered all pictures and 
images of him to be put down and all mention of him 
in church books to be obliterated. 

Of the destruction of the body there seems to be 
little doubt. The Consistorial Acts at Rome an- 
nounce the destruction of the shrine and the order 
that the body should be burnt and the ashes scattered 
to the winds. Stow, in his Annals (1565), records 
that this was done. 1 



1 In 1888 it was believed, however, that the bones had 
been discovered. On examination they did not tally with 


There remained more abiding memorials. Hubert The order 
Walter, archbishop of Canterbury, had in 1192 of 
recognised the new military order, of men who were O f 
both knights and canons, bearing the name of 
S. Thomas Acrensis (of Acre). It had been founded, 
within a few years of the martyrdom, in the Holy 
Land, and may possibly have had its origin in the 
penance accepted by Henry II of maintaining five 
hundred knights at his own cost for a year in the 
Crusade ; and it is not unlikely that the curious 
legend of the Saracen mother which is found in a MS. 
(1264-1270), J and in the Lives and Legends possibly 
by Robert of Gloucester, which cannot be many years 
later, may have found its origin in this connection. 
The order lasted till 1538, when it met its fate in the 
dissolution of the monasteries. But it had helped 
to perpetuate the martyr's memory in an enduring 

The most important influence in the history of The 
hospitals in England was undoubtedly that of Becket. hospitals. 
To his shrine came the greatest pilgrimages of sick 
and whole. At Canterbury and Southwark, hospitals 
were soon founded in his name, and before long similar 
buildings were erected at most of the southern ports 
and all along the Pilgrims' Way. Sick and whole, 
even lunatics, came to seek benefit from S. Thomas. 
Every pilgrim who stayed the night in the house at 

the original statements as to the injury to the skull, and 
there seems no reason to doubt that the burning really took 
place. The matter can be followed out in Morris, Life of 
S. Thomas, ii, 597 sqq., and the Relics of S. Thomas, 1188. 
A paper by Mr. G. W. Warner in The English Historical 
Review, vi, 756, gives an account of a forged (late seventeenth 
century) account of the rifling of the tomb of Becket ; "a 
plausible admixture of truth and falsehood." 
1 See Kingsford, Song of Lewes, pp xi, xvi-xvii. 


Canterbury received fourpence. He was regarded as 
the best of all saintly healers : a sign, which could 
be bought at Canterbury, bears that legend. Thus 
the name of S. Thomas became the most common 
dedication, after the twelfth century, of English 
hospitals. The order of S. Thomas of Acre, though 
some of its houses were called hospitals, was of course 
military, not medical, but it had taken charge of the 
very earliest hospital that was named after the saint. 
His sister had established a house for the sick in 
Cheapside, on the site of the house where her brother 
was born. This she gave to the knights and by them 
it was retained till 1538, when the site was bought 
by the Mercers Company : on it now stands their 
chapel and hall. More famous because of its con- 
tinuous history is S. Thomas's Hospital in Southwark, 
newly founded by the citizens of London in 1552 
on the site where an Augustinian hospital had been 
set up, with the same dedication, in 1228. This 
again may trace its origin to the " Xenodochium " 
erected " in honour of God and the blessed martyr 
Thomas in London, at Southwark " as described 
in a letter of Gilbert Foliot to the people of his 
diocese in 1179. x S. Thomas's Hospital preserves 
the name of Becket eight centuries after his life in the 
way in which it may most fitly be remembered. 

But there are other memorials no less enduring. 
Far away in Sicily, the Norman kingdom with which 
he ever kept up a close relation of kinship, exists a 
mosaic in the cathedral church of Monreale, which 
is dated not more than twenty years after his death, 
and of the same time is a sculpture over a porch at 

1 Materials, vii, 579. See also Miss Norgate's article on 
Thomas of London in the Dictionary of Biography. 


Bayeux. On the south porch of the cathedral church 
of Chartres is a representation of the martyrdom not 
later than the thirteenth century. At Sens, in the 
south choir aisle, is a seated figure in stone, which is 
said to have come from a house in the city where he 
once resided, before, it may be supposed, he was 
lodged in the abbey of S. Colombe. l His own seal has 
a portrait which has strong claims to be regarded 
as authentic, 2 and there is another (dated no later 
than 1220) in the Black Book of the Exchequer in 
the Public Record Office. Among later representa- 
tions are a fourteenth-century panel formerly in the 
court of Henry IV, the Becket window at Canterbury 
of the thirteenth-century, some stained glass at 
Lincoln of the same date, the miniatures of the 
thirteenth century illustrating an anonymous French 
poem, some frescoes at S. John's, Winchester, and at 
Pickering, and a single figure at Stoke Chantay 
Church, Hampshire. Nor does this exhaust the list. 
Still more famous, and more enduring, are the 
memorials which remain in the literature of Europe. ^units 
But for the pilgrimages to the shrine by the " holy O f Becket. 
blissful martyr " there would not have been the 
immortal Canterbury Tales. They stand apart in 
a glory of their own which owes little to the saint 
himself and does little for his memory. But of 
literature which is directly concerned with him there 
is abundance indeed. Hardly a country in Europe 
but tells of the life and death of Becket in its annals : 
among the very earliest of them is the work of the 

1 See above, p. 120. It is reproduced as the frontispiece 
to this book. 

* Canon Moore informs me that there is no impression at 
Canterbury, but there is a copy in the Lambeth Library. 


historian of the Latin kingdom of Jerusalem, William 
of Tyre, archbishop and crusader, and a little later 
there was in existence in Iceland the romantic Saga, 
which embodies the records of an English priest whose 
own work appears to be irretrievably lost. 

The " Becket cycle " is one of the treasures of 
medieval literature. In the first place are the letters 
which cover almost the whole life of the saint. They 
occupy three stout volumes of the Materials, collected 
and edited from earlier editions and from manuscripts 
by the late canon J. C. Robertson, of Canterbury, 
who devoted so much of his life to preserving the 
authentic memorials of the archbishop. Like the 
letters of Gregory VII or of S. Bernard, these authentic 
records bring the Middle Ages close to us in the veriest 
intimacy of their life. We see the impetuous spirit of 
the chancellor and archbishop overflowing on to the 
parchment on which the scribe or very often, it 
may be, his own hand records the passions of the 
moment, the affections, the anger, the bitter irony, 
the despair and sorrow unto death, and, through all, 
the unflinching determination which marked his 
character from the first days of his advancement 
to the last hours of his martyrdom. Some letters 
bear the signs of careful composition, are stately, 
affected, legalistic. Even in Becket's own there is 
often a pose of pedantry, an assumption of learned 
literary pomp, which belonged, like the rich habit 
of the chancellor, to the habits, the etiquette, of his 
day. There are signs, too, of his following a literary 
model, whose matter as well as manner he was not 
unwilling to adopt Hildebrand, the great asserter 
of the Church's extremest claims. But again and 
again there breaks out, even in the most laboured 


passages, a note of personal feeling, of genuine indig- 
nation, of pathos, of friendship, which reveals the 
true man, whom his enemies hated so bitterly, his 
disciples admired yet criticised, and the poor almost 
worshipped. Round the central letters cluster those 
of friends and foes. John of Salisbury, full of insight ; 
John of Poitiers, full of sympathy; Gilbert Foliot, full 
of bitterness ; Pope Alexander, full of hesitation and 
change. Henry's abrupt angry periods read as if 
they were dictated by himself. Cardinals write 
things soothing, bishops cry peevishly when they are 
scolded, clerks strive to show a knowledge of law, and 
monks a knowledge of the world. All through there 
is a sense of actuality, of the feelings of men who deal 
with difficult crises and great principles, which no 
later collection of historical letters has surpassed. 
We are brought face to face with the men of a great 
age, in their habits as they lived. 

When chroniclers sit down to write their impres- The 
sions of what they had heard or even seen we are still chroniclers, 
in an atmosphere charged with the electricity of 
partisanship. In so great a mass of material the 
general annalists of the time may be cursorily 
dismissed, even when they have each an extraordinary 
personal vivacity of his own Gerald de Barri, most 
diverting of romantic, self-admiring Celts ; Roger of 
Hoveden, solemn recorder of fact ; Ralph of Dissay, 
thoughtful priest, learned in statecraft ; Gervase 
of Canterbury, monastic antiquary ; William of 
Newburgh, wise impartial student of affairs, " the 
most independent chronicler in the whole list of our 
medieval historians." 

There are many more in whose pages the fame xhe 
of the martyr found place, but the professed biographers 


biographers stand apart by themselves. A few words 
may roughly describe the most important of these. 
William of Canterbury, who became a monk at Christ 
Church during the primate's exile, was ordained 
deacon by him, and received from him the habit on 
his return. His book was originally a collection of 
the miracles at the tomb, and he began to write 
it within eighteen months of the murder. It gradu- 
ally grew into a Life, depicting the archbishop, 
from the monastic point of view, as the hero of 
Christ Church, ascetic and " filling up the spiritual 
man with merits." The collection of miracles, of 
which it seems that William had some official cogni- 
zance and perhaps kept the official record, was 
presented to Henry II by the monks ; but they 
probably did not show the king the work in which 
his repudiation of concern in the archbishop's death 
is referred to in a tone of scarcely concealed irony. 
The king's conscience disturbed him not, and he 
took oath on the gospels that he had neither ordered 
the murder nor wished it : no one would voluntarily 
take such an oath when he could have by money or 
penance won absolution without risking damnation. 
William had himself been with Becket in S. Benedict's 
chapel : he had heard Fitz-Urse call out " Strike, 
strike " ; but he was one of those who forsook him 
and fled. 

Next to William may be placed another Canterbury 
monk, Benedict, who rose to be Prior of Christ Church, 
and died as abbat of Peterborough in 1193. His 
biography only exists in fragments, but his collection 
of the miracles is perhaps the earliest and certainly 
in some ways the most important. It is the candid 
work of a candid man, full of touches of minute 


observation. He is described as among Becket's 
familiar attendants, and he may have been with him 
in the cathedral church before the martyrdom. 

" Benedict, who was the first appointed to report Benedict of 
the miracles, seems to have been well adapted for the Peter- 
task ; a man of (comparatively) simple and unaffected bor ou i h - 
style, peculiarly accurate (for those times) in matters 
of chronology, free from exaggeration, and disposed 
to suspect exaggeration and imposture in others. 
Hence great weight must be attached to his accounts 
of the early miracles. The diseases healed by them 
were for the most part (as might have been antici- 
pated) nervous disorders, such as might be cured by 
a strong emotional shock. In some cases Benedict 
frankly tells us that the cure was not at first perfect ; 
in others that it was followed by relapse. In one 
case he informs us that the reputed water of S. 
Thomas was not S. Thomas's at all. It was a 
fraudulent imitation ; yet it performed the desired 
cure." 1 

As regards the miracles then, in their earliest 
aspect, as they appeared to the men of Becket's own 
day, the work of Benedict is of great value ; and 
it is probable that it was the first that was set down. 

Gamier of Pont S. Maxence began to write in the Garnier of 

second year after the murder and finished his work f "* 

,,rr/> TT T j.- t 1- S. Maxence. 

in 1176. He wrote not the clumsy Latin of the 

earlier martyrologists but his native French, and in 
verse ; and he was rewarded with a fine horse with 
proper harness by Mary, abbess of Barking, the 
archbishop's sister ; and the nuns, too, were generous. 
" et les dames m'ont fet tut gras 

chescune d'eeles de sun dun." 
1 Abbott, op. cit., Vol. i, p. 224. 



His own memory of his hero went back to the time 
when he led the English troops and was chancellor 
of the English king. He took infinite pains to 
amass materials. He questioned everybody, went to 
Canterbury, submitted his book to the correction of 
the monks, and read it aloud for the edification of 
the pilgrims. He has a remarkable eye for detail 
and is one of the most vivid of all those who recall 
critical scenes in the life. His knowledge of the exile 
and of the French king's feeling towards his dangerous 
guest is especially valuable. Gamier, who went 
about among the poor folk of Canterbury, embodies 
better than anyone else what the common people 
felt : he himself had true sympathy for them, for 
he alone raised his voice against the Constitution 
which forbade the ordination of villeins, and knew 
that of old God called not " dukes and persons high " 
but " men born of low estate." 

Edward Grim claims a place by himself, for he 
alone risked his life for his hero. A secular clerk from 
Cambridge, he had come to Canterbury for the express 
purpose of seeing the primate who had suffered exile 
for the Church, and the terrible scene which he wit- 
nessed stamped its mark on his own life. Serious, 
restrained, methodical, his biography is the tribute 
of a commonplace trusty nature to a high spiritual 
ideal. He felt intensely and the feeling struggles 
through the shackles of a tongue imperfectly learnt, 
and shines in many a passage of power and convincing 
truth. Among all those who loved or admired the 
hero, Grim stands first, for his sturdy sincerity and 
the courage of his candid words. 

If Grim stands apart there are three other biogra- 
phers who, each unlike the other, yet possess claims 


very similar to the attention of all who would learn 
what Thomas really was as well as what he did. John 
of Salisbury was unquestionably the ablest of the 
three. Of about the same age as Becket, he had a 
training more exclusively literary and more exact. 
For twelve years at least he studied at Paris, and 
he was the pupil of the great Abailard, and of all the 
most famous teachers of the time. Commended by 
S. Bernard, and the familiar correspondent of popes 
and kings, there was no European scholar of his day 
to surpass him in learning. From 1150, when he 
returned to England, he had a close knowledge of 
Becket and was his constant correspondent and his 
vigorous defender, and he was his critic to the last. 
But at the supreme moment his courage failed him, 
and he turned away from his friend's side. He wrote, 
it seems probable, almost immediately after the 
murder. He was as convinced a believer as anyone 
in the miracles : perhaps remorse predisposed him 
to believe. He died in 1180 as bishop of Chartres, 
the faithful city which had welcomed his friend, and 
where his memory was to be preserved among the 
matchless sculptures of the cathedral church. 1 

Herbert of Bosham had none of the restraint and Herbert of 
none of the critical faculty which made John of Bosham. 
Salisbury the most candid of all Becket's intimates : 
he hardly aspired to be a friend : he was " the disciple 
who wrote these things," yet he records many 
expressions, many momentary thoughts or hasty 
words, which give an extraordinary expression of 
reality to his long and often prosy tale. His Life 
of the Saint and his Liber Melorum are works which 
human patience will scarce endure to read through ; 

1 See above, p. 208. 


and yet there is, ever and again, a touch in them so 
pathetic and so simple as to bring to the reader's eyes 
the tear that one feels sure were never far from his 
own when he wrote of his dear lord, whom he loved 
with such reverence and yet with such intensely 
human affection. In Herbert of Bosham, if some- 
times the real Thomas eludes us, we come very near 
to him in the impression which he made on those who 
knew him well. 

William Herbert's chief book was finished probably before 

itz- : 1 187 ; ten years earlier William Fitz-Stephen began 

his life, which is perhaps the best of alL He describes 
himself and the fact needs no proof outside his 
book as the archbishop's fellow-citizen. He was, 
he tells us, his remembrancer in the chancery, his 
subdeacon when he said mass, and in his archiepiscopal 
court he was his clerk and sometimes his deputy. 
He was present at Northampton : he was an eye- 
witness of many things that he tells of the life : and 
he saw the martyrdom and stood by the martyr to 
the last. He was one of the king's justices later on, 
and seems always or at least in later years to 
have been an official of the king. The man stands 
clearly before us, and he writes boldly, as a man 
of affairs, for men who can understand the great 
work that falls on statesmen and bishops. But 
a mystery hangs over his book. No contemporary 
mentions it : he is not named among the saint's 
companions. Save for his book his connection with 
Becket would have been utterly forgotten. But the 
book itself is his passport to fame. It shows him 
a man of the world, who can tell the points of a horse 
and note the humours of travel and the strange tricks 
of self-assertive men. Every descriptive touch of the 


archbishop shows a knowledge as intimate as the 
power of observation is exact. No biographer tells 
more certainly what really happened and how it 
happened, or sees with more sure insight the thoughts 
which moved men to their words and deeds. 

In spite of the silence of contemporaries, no one 
doubts that Fitz-Stephen's is a genuine record ; and 
indeed several manuscripts are of a date little later 
than that in which the book must have been first 
composed; and one comes from the abbey which 
Richard de Lucy founded in memory of the saint 
who had excommunicated him. 

Besides these there are a number of anonymous Anony- 
but contemporary lives, that which Mr. Freeman ous 
(and others before him) considered to be the work of 
Roger, a monk of Pontigny, perhaps the most im- 
portant among them. But the identification with 
Roger is not certain : it has been suggested that 
Robert of Merton, the archbishop's oldest friend, 
may have been the author. The two salient points 
in the book are the intimate knowledge of Becket's 
early life, which of course might have come from his 
own stories of his youth, and the very close resem- 
blance in many points to Gamier. The writer 
certainly knew the archbishop also in his exile. 
Another anonymous life (Lambethensis : the MS. is 
at Lambeth) is candid in declaring that once the 
writer thought his hero's " life madness " a remi- 
niscence of the Book of Wisdom, of course and 
contains matter which shows some personal knowledge. 
Others give new details. 

And besides these anonymous sources there are 
still two more primary authorities. There is the life 
by Alan, once a monk and prior of Christ Church, 


and afterwards abbat of Tewkesbury, where his 
Lesser tomb still stands behind the high altar of the abbey 

biographers church. He was a contemporary but not an eye- 
witness, a collector and a skilful investigator. For 
the years of exile, and the month before, his assis- 
tance is most valuable. There is or was Robert 
of Cricklade, prior of S. Frideswide's, Oxford, some 
of whose memories, very quaint and vivid, are 
preserved in the inimitable Saga of Iceland, a book 
which is as happy in its account of the saint's life 
as its rich enjoyment of his miracles. 

But the tale is an endless one. French metrical 
lives, English poems, jostle one another in the 
bibliography. For a hundred years one almost feels 
that every man of letters could not keep his pen 
from the life of the martyred primate of all 

Individual biographies were soon gathered into 
collections of gems. In 1198 a Quadrilogus was 
began, which had a new edition in 1212. Elias of 
Evesham, who first composed it, took the Gospels for 
his model, and made his collection from John of 
Salisbury, Herbert of Bosham, William of Canterbury 
and Alan of Tewkesbury. Roger of Croyland, his 
reviser, introduced several of the Letters, and pre- 
pared his work for the Translation in 1220, when it 
was presented to Stephen Langton. Another but 
inferior cento was that of Thomas of Froidmont. 
The Quad- Thus the Middle Age was satisfied with ample 
rilogus; knowledge of the saint. The sixteenth century was 
Uves supplied by the Romanist Thomas Stapleton (1535- 

1598) with a new version in his Tres Thomae : the 
seventeenth saw the publication of the first Quadri- 
logus by Lupus (Christian Wolf) at Brussels in 1682 ; 


the eighteenth the rival volumes of Berington and 
Lord Lytleton ; the nineteenth the rediscovery of 
the real Becket by the brilliant Richard Hurrell 
Froude, leading to the enthusiastic but inadequate 
labours of Dr. J. A. Giles ; and, forty years after 
his brother, James Anthony Froude, by his hasty 
onslaught evoked the retorts of Edward Augustus 
Freeman. Among many other, and often excellent 
books, the work that endures is not polemical. It 
is the seven volumes of Materials for the Life of 
Archbishop Becket which were published in seven 
volumes in the series issued under the direction of 
the Master of the Rolls, the crowning work though 
he did not live to complete it of James Craigie 
Robertson, canon of Canterbury, who had first 
written the archbishop's Life in 1859. 

But perhaps the memory of Becket to-day owes 
more to the genius of the great Victorian poet than 
to any scholar's toil. Tennyson in his play has 
revived the true spirit of the medieval hero, to which 
a great actor gave inspired embodiment. 

Principles waver, party cries grow old, burning 
questions die down into ashes, but the loving memory 
of a great nation cannot wholly fade away, and 
personal courage and human faith even though 
chequered and distorted in things unseen, abide 
beyond the breath of change. 

Truly did the great poet see the inspiration of the 
martyr in that thought of him among men which 
made him the most popular of all English saints. J 

1 Life of Tennyson, vol. ii, p. 197. Lord Tennyson says 
of these fine words that " some of the last lines which my 
father ever wrote are at the end of the Northampton scene, 
an anthem-speech written for Irving." 

19 (2al6) 


" The voice of the Lord is in the voice of the people, 
The voice of the Lord is on the warring flood, 
And He will lead His people into peace ! 
The voice of the Lord will shake the wilderness, 
The barren wilderness of unbelief ! 
The voice of the Lord will break the cedar-trees, 
The Kings and Rulers that have closed their ears 
Against the Voice, and at their hour of doom 
The voice of the Lord will hush the hounds of Hell 
In everlasting silence." 

And so the poet preserves the thought of the man 
who says 

" But I must die for that which never dies." 


ABBOTT, Dr. E. A., quoted, 269 

Adam of Petitpont, bishop of 

S. Asaph, 15 
Adrian IV, Pope, 46 
Alan of Tewkesbury, 2, 287-8 
Albert, Cardinal, Becket's letter 

to, 230-31, 233 
Aldington, manor of, 99 
Alexander III, Pope, 46, 55, 56, 
, 71, 81, 82, 86, 94, 97, 98, 99, 

113-116, 117, 118, 120, 121. 

125, 126, 129, 134, 137, 138, 

139, 142, 143, 149, 172, 176, 

180, 185, 187, 188, 192, 193-5, 

196-200, 202-6, 211-20, 222, 

224, 227-29, 231-34, 240-42, 

252-3, 273 
Alexander Llewelyn, cross - 

bearer, 97, 107, 255 
Anjou, counts of, their claims, 

Arnulf, bishop of Lisieux, 19, 

22, 24, 66, 78, 83, 138, 226, 

239, 273 

Arundel, earl of, 112, 116 
Auxerre, 11, 15, 120-121, 131, 

136, 208, 260 
Avallon, 141 

Baldwin, archdeacon, 7 
Bartholomew, bishop of Exeter, 

41, 50-3, 112, 142-210 
Battle Abbey case, 34, 35 
Becket, Gilbert, 3, 4, 6, 7 
Becket, Mahatz (Matilda) or 
Roesia, 3, 4 ; legend of her 
Saracen birth, 4, 8 
Becket, Thomas, birth, 3 ; 
parents, 3 ; the B.V.M. his 
patroness, 3 ; childhood at 
Merton, 4 ; schooldays in 
London, 4-6 ; in business 

under Osbert Huitdeniers, 6 ; 
his personal appearance, 7 ; 
employment by abp. Theo- 
bald, 7 sqq., 15 ; at Rome, 10 ; 
bis preferments, 11 ; arch- 
deacon of Canterbury, 11 
sqq., 18 sqq. ; at Bologna, 
11 sqq. ; and Auxerre, 11, 15 ; 
chancellor of England, 19 ; 
friendship with Henry, 20 ; 
and influence on him in 
Church matters, 21, 22 ; share 
in reforms, 24 sqq. ; his 
personal appearance, 25 ; 
manner of life, 26-32 ; his 
work in London, 32, 33 ; 
dedications by John of Salis- 
bury to him, 33 ; work as 
justice, 33 ; in exchequer, 35 ; 
in diplomacy and war, 35, 86 ; 
and in chancery, 34 ; Battle 
Abbey case, 34-35 ; in the 
Welsh War, 36, 37 ; embassy 
to Louis VII, 37 sqq. ; Becket 
in the Toulouse War, 40 sqq. ; 
and the question of the 
donutn, 40-42 ; unhorses 
Engelram of Trie, 43 ; op- 
poses marriage of an abbess, 
43-44 ; long absent from his 
archdeaconry, 44, 45 ; share 
in legal reform, 45 ; made 
archbishop, 47 sqq. ; hesita- 
tion before accepting, 50 ; 
election, 51 ; confirmation, 
52 ; release from secular 
claims, 52, 53 ; ordained 
priest, 53 ; consecrated arch- 
bishop, 53, 54 ; his affection 
for the cathedral church, 54, 
55 ; institution of Trinity 
Sunday, 55 ; assumes mo- 
nastic habit, 55 ; changes 
manner of life, 56 sqq. ; 
William Fitz-Stephen's 




Becket, Thomas (continued) 
account of his asceticism, 56- 
61 ; his daily life, 62, 63 ; his 
learned clerks, 63 ; his care 
at ordinations, 64, 65 ; resig- 
nation of the chancellorship, 
67, 69 ; care in filling the see 
of London, 67-69 ; resumption 
of Church property, 70 ; case 
of William of Eynesford, 70, 
71 ; at the Council of Tours, 
71 ; dispute at Canterbury, 
71 ; at Woodstock, 72 ; and 
cases of clerical crime, 73 
sqq. ; at the Council of West- 
minster, 75 sqq. ; at the 
translation of S. Edward, 78, 
79 ; consecration of bishops, 

79 ; dispute at Northampton, 

80 ; with Foliot, 80 ; seeks 
Pope's aid, 81 ; makes con- 
cessions at Oxford, 82 ; goes 
to Clarendon, 84 ; the Con- 
stitutions and his attitude 
towards them, 85-97 ; sends 
messenger to the Pope, 98, 
99 ; attempts flight and 
returns to Canterbury, 99, 
100 ; summoned to North- 
ampton, 101 ; at the Council 
102-110; wanderings, 110; 
flight from Eastry and Sand- 
wich, 110, 111 ; lands at 
Boulogne, 111 ; in Flanders, 
112-113; in France, 8; at 
Sens, 118 sqq. ; his statue 
and vestments, 119, 120; 
visits the Pope, 120 ; goes to 
Pontigny, 121 ; his life there, 
123 ; his vision there, 124 ; 
his collection of books, 125 ; 
his vigils cause illness, 129 ; 
his absence from England 
leaves no mark, 129, 130 ; his 
control of his province from 
abroad, 130, 202 ; his ma- 
tured theory of Church and 
State, 136-138 ; made papal 
legate, 139 ; leaves Pontigny, 
140 ; at Soissons, 140 ; goes 
to Vezelay, 140, 141 ; ex- 
communicates various offend- 
ers but spares the king, 142 ; 

driven from Pontigny, 174 ; 
goes to Sens, 175 ; settles in 
the abbey of S. Colombe, 176 ; 
his alarm at the papal 
legation, 178; letters, 179 
sqq. ; meeting with legates, 
193 ; confronted with new 
appeals, 196 ; letters, 197- 
200, 202, 204, 206 ; meeting 
at Montmirail, 206-8 ; returns 
to Sens through Chartres, 
208 ; rejects advice, 209 ; 
further letters, 210 sqq. ; 
intends excommunications, 
217 ; his excommunication 
delivered, 218 ; new legation, 
219 ; prepares for an inter- 
dict, 220 ; meets Henry at 
Montmartre, Nov. 18th, 1169, 
221-224 ; at the Temple, 
Paris, 224 ; letters, 224 sqq. ; 
new legation, 229 ; letters, 
230 sqq. ; letter to Idonea, 
234 ; meets Henry at Fr6te- 
val, 236 ; argues constitu- 
tional points, 238 ; meeting 
at Tours, 240 ; letter to 
Henry, 240 ; last meeting 
with Henry, 242 ; goes to 
Wissant and crosses to Sand- 
wich, 243 ; his personal 
character, 246 ; ideal of 
office, 247 ; landing at Sand- 
wich, 248 ; return to Canter- 
bury, 249 ; preacher, 250 ; 
endeavours to see the young 
king, 251 ; last letter to the 
Pope, 252 ; spends Christmas 
at Canterbury, 256 ; says 
farewell to Herbert, 253 ; 
warned of danger, 256 ; re- 
ceives his murderers, 256 ; 
goes to the cathedral, 259 ; 
the murder, 260-261 ; his 
character and popularity, 265 
sqq. ; miracles, 268 sqq. ; 
canonisation, 273 ; transla- 
tion, 274 ; shrine, 275 sqq. ; 
burying of his bones, 275 ; 
memorials, 277 ; portraits, 
etc., 278, 279 ; biographies, 
279 sqq. ; Tennyson's view of, 



Becket, Thomas (continued) 
Letters : 

to Alexander III, 81, 113, 145, 
179, 189, 197, 204, 211, 213- 
17, 236, 240, 252 ; to Gilbert 
Foliot, 67, 126, 172, 181,217; 
to Henry II, 134 sqq., 240 
Other letters from : 9, 74, 130, 
134, 139, 145 sqq., 150-170, 
172, 185, 197-200, 202, 206, 
209, 210, 234 

Letters to : 22, 45, 47, 66, 97, 
98, 128, 149, 171, 180, 182, 
184, 185, 186, 199, 202, 205, 
209, 224, 227, 230, 234, 240 

Belme Richard de, 52 

Benedict (of Peterborough), 
biographer of Becket, 36, 64, 
251, 282-3, 288 

Berengar, 218 

Bernard, bishop of Nevers, 229 

Bernard of Grammont, 206, 210, 

Beverley, 11, 18, 26 

Bologna, 11, 15 ; law at, 11-13, 
136 ; archdeacons at, 13, 14 ; 
its interest in the twelfth 
century, 14, 15 

Bosham, Herbert of, 36, 42, 44, 
49, 51, 53, 56, 62-3-4, 65, 78, 
109, 113, 116, 131, 141, 142, 
175, 206, 208, 219, 221, 224, 
236, 249-50, 254-5, 285-6, 288 

Boso, Cardinal, letter to, 9 

Boulogne, Matthew of, 44 

Brito [le Breton] Reginald, 44, 
255, 262 

Broc, Ranulf de, 118, 142, 147, 
241, 249, 251, 252, 254 

CANTERBURY, Theobald's school 
at, 8, 9, 10, 15, 16, 81 ; 
Thomas's school, 63-64 ; ca- 
thedral church of, 47, 51, 52, 
53, 54, 55, 58, 108, 119, 249, 
sqq. ; consecration of Becket 
in, 53 ; Henry and Becket 
at, 69 ; Becket at, 99, 100, 
249 sqq. ; archdeacons of (see 
Roger of Pont 1'Eveque, 
Becket, Geoffrey Ridel, 
Rochester, Walter, bishop 

of) ; archdeaconry of, its 

importance, 18, 44 
Celestine II, 9 

Clarembald, abbat of S. Au- 
gustine's, Canterbury, 71, 72, 

99, 203, 256 
Clarendon, Council at, 84 sqq. ; 

constitutions of, 45, 85 sqq., 

95 sqq. 

Chartres, 207, 208 
Chichester (see Hilary, Bishop of) 
Christian, Brother, name of 

Becket, incognito, 110, 112 
Courcy, William de, 102 
Cricklade, Robert of (see Saga) 

DANTE, quoted, 14 
David, bishop of S. Davids, 53 
Derman, brother, Becket's in- 
cognito name, 110 
Draco Normanntcus, 44 

EASTRY, 110 

Eleanor, Queen, 16, 40, 69 

Ely (see Nigel) 

Essex, Henry of, 34, 36 

Eugenius III, 9, 16, 219 

Eustace of Boulogne, 7 

Eynesford, William of, 70, 71, 

88, 105 
Exeter (see Bartholomew, 

bishop of) 

FITZ-BERNARD, 142, 147, 220 

Fitz-Peter, Simon, 75 

Fitz-Stephen, William, bio- 
grapher of Becket, 4, 5, 6, 15, 
20, 21, 22, 26, 28, 32-33, 37- 
39, 56-61, 64, 75, 88, 102, 103, 
105, 106, 108, 117, 130-133, 
236-239, 249, 250, 255, 260, 

Fitz-Urse, Reginald, 255, 257, 
258, 259, 262 

Foliot, Gilbert, abbat of Glou- 
cester, 10 ; bishop of Here- 
ford, 10, 18, 20, 41, 52, 54; 
bishop of London, 67, 69, 80, 
82, 84, 94, 104, 107, 109, 112, 
117, 126, 139, 149, 150, 155, 
171, 172, 174, 181, 185, 196, 
217, 218, 219, 230, 243, 245, 
278, 281 (see Becket) 



Foliot, Robert, 63 

Frederic I, Emperor, 36, 67, 

126, 132, 176, 185, 187, 188, 

191, 193, 231, 237 
Freeman, E. A., quoted, 18 
Fr6teval, 118, 236, 242-3 
Froude, R. H., 139, 191 

GARNIER of Pont S. Maxence' 
30, 43, 56, 89, 103, 110, 121, 
174, 191, 255, 283-4, 287 

Geoffrey, bishop of S. Asaph, 54, 

Gerard la Pucelle, 63 

Gervase of Canterbury, 16, 36, 
55, 141 

Gilbert of Senpringham, 130 

Glanville, his De Legibus 
Angliae, 45 

Gratian, canonist, 12, 13, 91, 98, 
108, 146 

Gratian, cardinal, 219, 220 sqq. 

Grim, Edward, a Cambridge 
monk and biographer of 
Becket, 3, 8, 32, 43, 71, 72, 
73, 103, 257, 260, 261 sqq. 

HARROW, Becket at, 8, 81, 82, 
252, 254 

Henry, count of Anjou, duke of 
Normandy, king of England, 
10, 16, 17, 19, 20-22, 24, 25, 
30, 31-40, 42-47, 48-53, 65, 
70, 72, 75, 77-110, 248 

Henry, Count of Troyes, 179 

Henry, called Henry III, son of 
Henry II, 49, 52, 53, 231, 233, 
238, 239, 251 

Henry of Blois, bishop of Win- 
chester, 9, 40, 52, 73, 104-5, 
245, 251 

Henry of Houghton, 208 

Henry of Huntingdon, 17 

Hilary, bishop of Chichester, 34, 
50, 53,78, 106, 109, 112, 117, 
145, 245 

Hog, William, 218 

Hugh of Horsea, 260 

Hugh of Nunant, 107 

ICELAND (see Saga) 

Ilchester, Richard of, archdea- 
con of Poitiers, 83, 99, 112, 
126, 142, 147, 155, 217 

Irnerius, 12, 13, 14 

Isaac, abbat of Stella, 99 

Ivo of Chartres, 13 

JOCELIN, bishop of Salisbury, 
53, 74, 161, 217, 219, 230, 245 

Jocelin de Balliol, 85, 142, 147 

John XXII, 55 

John the Kentishman at Canter- 
bury, 16 

John of Salisbury, 14, 15, 16, 33, 
34, 35, 37, 41-3, 45, 47, 63, 79, 
80,86, 111, 125,130, 131, 133, 
140, 142, 146, 161, 162, 163, 
172, 178, 182, 187, 191, 194, 
195, 201, 205, 206, 210, 246, 
250, 259, 281, 284, 288 

John the Marshal (see Marshal) 

John, bishop of Poitiers, 81, 98, 
121, 128, 175, 191, 208, 246, 

Justinian, 12, 92 

LA CELLE (Celles), Peter of, 15, 


Laigle (see Richer) 
Leicester, earl of, 34, 109, 205 
Leicester, prior of, 48 
Lichfield (see Richard, bishop 


Lisieux (see Arnulf, bishop of) 
Llandaff (see Nicholas, bishop 

Lombard, of Piacenza, 63, 180, 

London, its schools, 4, 5 ; 

hospitals, 277-8 
Louis VII, king of the Franks, 

37-8, 46, 82, 112, 116, 118, 

174, 176, 180, 195, 205, 206, 

212, 222, 229, 236, 243, 254 
Lucius III, Pope, 9 
Lucy, Richard de, 34, 50-1, 85, 

113, 142, 147, 217 

MAINZ, archbishop of, 206 
Maitland, Professor F. W., 90, 

91, 92, 94 
Marshal, John the, 100, 101, 

103, 108 



Matilda, queen and empress, 10, 

50, 110, 178 

Merton Abbey, Surrey, 4, 56, 64 
Merton, Robert of, 4, 27, 30, 64, 

129, 260, 287 
Montmartre, 221, 222 
Montmirail, 118, 206, 213 
Morris, Father, 35, 51, 54, 264, 


Morville, Hugh de, 255, 258 
Murdac, Henry, 17 

NEWBURGH, William of, 24, 46, 

95, 282 

Nicholas, bishop of Llandaff, 53 
Nigel, bishop of Ely, 53 
Norwich (see William, bishop 

Northampton, Council of, 100, 

Nunant, Hugh of, 63, 107 

OSBERT Huitdeniers, trader and 
sheriff, 6 

Ostia, Otto of, 176, 178, 185, 196 

Otford, 11 

Oxford, John of, jurator, 112, 
126, 142, 146, 162, 176, 178-9, 
199, 220, 243, 245, 249 

PAGEHAM, JOHN, bishop of 

Worcester, 1 1 
Pageham, Manor of, 101 
Paschal III, 126, 187 
Pavia, William of, 121, 176, 

185, 187, 189, 190, 196-7, 201 
Peter of Blois, quoted, 11 
Peter of Bayeux, 19 
Philip, abbat of 1'Aumdne, 73, 


Pisa, Henry of, 50 
Poitiers (see John, bishop of) 
Pontigny, Cistercian abbey of, 

99, 122, 124 ; Becket at, 56, 

136, 139, 140-1, 174 

RADFORD, Dr., 35, 49, 53 
Ralph of Sarr, 16, 63 
Ramsay, abbey of, 26 
Ramsey, Mary, abbess of, 43, 44 
Rashdall, Dr. H. R., 11 
Reginald, archdeacon of Salis- 
bury, 182-4, 227 

Richard, bishop of Lichfield, 53 
Richer of Laigle, friend of 

Becket, 6 
Ridel, Geoffrey, 69, 172, 217, 

Robert of Merton (see Merton, 

Robert of) 

Robert of Melun, 15, 79, 82 
Robert of Torigny, 39, 42 
Rochester, Walter, bishop of, 

10, 11, 42, 50, 53, 103, 251 
Roger of Gloucester, 87, 277 
Roger of Pontigny, 51, 103, 112, 

Roger of Pont 1'Eveque, rival of 

Becket, 8, 9, 10, 11 ; elected 

and consecrated archbishop 

of York, 17, 54, 71, 78, 83, 

87,97,107, 109, 112, 117, 118, 

155, 187, 232, 233, 234, 243, 

245, 253, 255 
Roger, bishop of Worcester, 79, 

112, 139, 185, 235, 245 
Rotrou, archbishop of Rouen, 

126, 145, 178, 221, 229 
Rouen (see Rotrou) 

SAGA, the Icelandic, of Thomas 
Robert of Cricklade), 7, 9, 21, 
28 sqq., 31 sqq., 70, 75 sqq., 
123 sqq., 288 

Saints, Christian, 1 ; Moham- 
medan and Hindu, 1 

Salisbury (see John of Oxford, 
dean of ; Jocelin, bishop of ; 
Reginald, archdeacon of;, 
Earl of, 205 

Salt wood, 241, 255 

Scailman, Brother, 113 

Sens, 81, 83, 98, 99, 116-7, 119, 
121, 175, 179,207-8,213,215, 
236, 237 ; Matthew, precentor 
of, 179 

S. Colombe, Abbey of, 176 

Seez, bishop of, 221 

S. Asaph (see Godfrey, bishop 
of ; Adam, bishop of) 

S. Clare, Hugh de, 142 

S. Davids (see David, bishop of), 

S. Edward the Confessor, trans- 
lation of his body, 78 

S. Mary-le-Strand, 11 



S. Omer, 113, 118 

Scut age, 40 sqq. 

Shrove Tuesday sports in 

London, 5 

Silly, Robert de, 226 
Simon, prior of Mont-Dieu, 206, 

210, 214 

Soissons, 118, 140 
Stephen, king, 9, 10, 16, 17, 19, 

44, 72-3, 86, 96 
Stratford, archbishop, 44 
Stubbs, Bishop, quoted, 14, 45, 

47, 72, 79, 84, 129 

TENNYSON, 289, 290 

Theobald, archbishop of Can- 
terbury, 7 ; his school, 8, 15, 
16 ; his politics and influ- 
ence, 9, 10, 11 ; his relations 
with Becket, 17, 19, 21, 25, 
38, 43, 44, 45, 47, 52, 54, 58, 
73, 81, 172 

Thibault of'Blois, 236 

Thierceville, 3, 7 

Thomas of London, of Canter- 
bury (see Becket) 

Thomas of Maidstone, 256 

Toulouse, Henry II's claims in, 
40; war in, 41-44, 105, 171 

Tours, Council of, 71, 86, 221 

URSPERG, Richard of, 12 

Vend6me, Count of, 82 
Vergil, quoted, 6, 125 
Vezelay, 140 sqq. 
Victor IV, 46 
Vitalis, 218 

Vivian, cardinal, 219, 220, 221, 
224, 225, 227, 229 

Warenne, Countess of, 44 
Warenne, Reginald of, 249 
Westminster, abbey of, 17, 78, 

79, 233 ; council at, 52, 69, 

75, 78, 101, 102, 103 
William of Canterbury, 30, 33, 

248, 282 

William of Champagne, 176 
William of Newburgh, 24, 46, 

95, 219, 268, 281 
William of Northall, 218 
William, bishop of Norwich, 53 
William the Conqueror, 86, 88, 

108, 238 

William de Tracy, 255, 258, 262 
William of Tyre, 280 
Windsor, Council of, 46 
Woodstock, 72, 98, 99, 100 
Wurzburg, council at, 126, 165 


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well known friends, ' Bell's Elocutionist ' and ' Chambers's Reciter.' " 
Educational News. 

PITMAN 'S WHERE TO LOOK. An Easy Guide to Books of Reference. 
In crown 8vo, cloth, 2s. net. Third Edition. Revised and aug- 
mented, and including a list of the principal Continental and 
American books of reference with a note of their contents. 

RUBBER AND THE RUBBER MARKET. With a History of ' the 
Rubber Plant. In crown 8vo, with illustrations. 6d. net. 

of the Economic Plants of the World and of their Commercial Uses. 
By W. G. FREEMAN, B.Sc., F.L.S., and S. E. CHANDLER. D.Sc.. 
F.L.S. With contributions by T. A. HENRY, D.Sc., F.C.S., C. E. 
JONES, B.Sc., F.L.S., and E. H. WILSON. With 420 illustrations 
from photographs and 12 coloured plates and maps. In demy 4to, 
cloth gilt, gilt top, 10s. 6d. net. 

IN ENGLAND. By FOSTER WATSON, M.A. (Professor of Education 
in the University College of Wales ; Aberystwyth). In crown 8vo. 
cloth, 7s. 6d. net. 


Original issue. In demy 8vo, cloth gilt, 10s. 6d. 

" The most satisfactory and stimulating criticism of the poet yet 
published." Times. 

(See also Dainty Volume Library page 9.) 



the same Author. Original issue. In demy 8vo, cloth gilt, 7s. 6d. 
" Will make a strong appeal to all lovers of our great Laureate." 
Quarterly Review. 

(See also Dainty Volume Library, page 9.) 

an Introduction on the Course of Poetry from 1822 to 1852. By 
the same Author. In demy 8vo, cloth gilt, 6s. net. 

" The book is a brilliant and remarkable study .... worthy 
and we can give it no higher praise to stand side by side with 
the aids to interpretation from the same vivid and picturesque pens 
of the vanished masters who gave us, in the one case, In Memoriam 
and Idylls of the King, and, in the other, The Ring and the Book 
and Dramatic Lyrics." Standard. 

THE POEMS OF JAMES HOGG. The Ettrick Shepherd. Selected 
and edited, with an introduction, by WILLIAM WALLACE, LL.D. 
With photogravure portrait frontispiece. In crown 8vo, cloth gilt, 
gilt top, 5s. 

" This admirable new edition." Glasgow Evening News. 

WITH THE WILD GEESE. Songs of Irish Exile and Lament. By 
EMILY LAWLESS. With an Introduction by STOPFORD A. BROOKE. 
In square 8vo, cloth gilt, 4s. 6d. net. 


OLD-AGE PENSIONS : Are they Desirable and Practicable ? By 
2s. 6d. net. 

ALIEN IMMIGRATION : Should Restrictions be Imposed ? By 
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RELIGIOUS LIBERTY IN ENGLAND : A Scheme for Providing and 
Securing Religious Liberty in England and Wales. By J. FOVARGUE 
BRADLEY. With Introductions by the Rev. DUGALD MACFADYEN, 
M.A., and the Rev. T. A. LACEY. In demy 8vo, Is. net. 

" The book is obviously one which no one who cares for the 
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warmest welcome. Certainly a book to be read and studied." 
Public Opinion. 

In crown 8vo, cloth gilt, 3s. 6d. net. 

" It is in every way a serious and notable work." Daily News. 

" One of the best and most impressive volumes of controversy 
that has been issued for some years ... a noble protest, nobly 
achieved . . . ." Methodist Recorder. 




With numerous full-page and other illustrations. In demy 8vo, 
Cloth gilt, gilt top, 3s. 6d. net. 

" Sir Robert Ball's gifts as a narrator are very great. He is, of 
course, a master of his subject. . . . The most earth-bound mortal 
who opens this book must go on with it." Daily Chronicle. 

IN STARRY REALMS. By the same Author. The Wonders of the 
Heavens. With numerous full-page and other illustrations. In 
demy 8vo, cloth gilt, gilt top, 3s. 6d. net. 

" The style of popular exposition adopted throughout is indeed 
admirable, the illustrations are excellent, the binding is tasteful, 
and the print good." Saturday Review. 

IN THE HIGH HEAVENS. By the same Author. A popular account 
of recent interesting astronomical events and phenomena, with 
numerous full-page and other illustrations. In demy 8vo, cloth gilt, 
gilt top, 3s. 6d. net. 

" It has," says The Scotsman, " the freshest knowledge and the 
best scientific thought." 

LL.D. With an Introduction by Sir ROBERT BALL. Illustrated. 
A popular exposition of the wonders of the Heavens. In demy 8vo, 
cloth gilt, gilt top. 3s. 6d. net. 

The Record of a Balloonist. With four illustrations. In demy 
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SOCIALISM. By Professor ROBERT FLINT, LL.D. New, Revised and 
Cheaper Edition. In demy 8vo, cloth gilt, 6s. net. 

" A new, revised and cheaper edition of Professor Flint's masterly 
study will be generally welcomed. The revision has been carefully 
carried out, but the original text has been as far as possible pre- 
served. References show that the additional notes are well up 
to date." Daily Mail. 

social and economic conditions of life in the East End of London. 
By the author of The Call of the Wild. With 24 illustrations from 

; actual photographs. In crown 8vo, cloth gilt, 6s. 

"... Mr. Jack London, who is already known to the British 
public as a fine descriptive writer, has done for the East End of 
London what he did for the Klondyke has described it fully and 
faithfully, looking at it as intimately as dispassionately." Daily 



WHAT IS SOCIALISM ? By " SCOTSBURN." An attempt to examine 
the principles and policy propounded by the advocates of Socialism. 
In demy 8vo, cloth gilt, 7s. 6d. 


illustrations by GORDON BROWNE and from photographs taken bj 
the Author. In large crown 8vo, cloth gilt, 6s. 

AROUND AFGHANISTAN. By Major de Bouillane de Lacoste. 
Translated from the French by J. G. Anderson. With five maps 
and 113 illustrations. In super royal 8vo, cloth gilt, gilt top, 
10s. 6d. net. 

" This beautifully illustrated book of travels takes the reader 
through Persia, to Yarkand. and other famous cities of Turkestan, 
including Samarkand, with its majestic tomb of Tamerlane. A 
valuable photographic record of little-trodden regions." Evening 

seventy illustrations reproduced from paintings made on the spot, 
and maps, plans, etc. In large crown 8vo, cloth richly gilt, gilt top, 
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" One of the most delightful travel books that we have come 
across for some time." Country Life. 

Provinces. By the same Authors. With 63 illustrations (some in 
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" The book is well worth reading, not merely as a travel handbook. 
but for its sympathetic, social and historical review of a very 
interesting section of the French people." 7mA Times. 

Provinces. By the same Authors. With 59 illustrations (some in 
colour), maps, plans, etc. In large crown 8vo, cloth richly gilt, 
gilt top, 7s. 6d. net. 

" Their new volume strikes the reader as the most readable and 
most instructive they have yet given us." Nottingham Guardian. 

With 75 illustrations, in colour and black and white, maps, plans, 
etc. In large crown 8vo, cloth gilt, gilt top, with cover of charming 
design, 7s. 6d. net. 

" A comprehensive account of Morocco, Algiers, and Tunis, and 
of Mussulman government, religion, art, culture, and French 
influence. Picturesquely illustrated." Times. 



Countries and Peoples Series 

cloth gilt, gilt top, with 31 full -page illustrations, 6s. net. 

" The knowledge and judgment displayed in the volume are truly 
astounding, and the labour the author has expended on it has made 
it as indispensable as Baedeker to the traveller, as well as invaluable 
to the student of modern times." Daily Telegraph. 

16mo, cloth gilt, gilt top, with 32 full-page illustrations, 6s. net. 

" A book of general information concerning the life and genius 
of the French people, with especial reference to contemporary 
France. Covers every phase of French intellectual life architecture, 
players, science, and invention, etc. Times. 

16mo, cloth gilt, gilt top, with 32 illustrations, 6s. net. 

" Within little more than 250 pages she has collected a mass of 
ordered information which must be simply invaluable to any one 
who wants to know the facts of Spanish life at the present day. 
Nowhere else, so far as we are aware, can a more complete and yet 
compendious account of modern Spain be found." Pall Mall 

full-page plate illustrations. In imperial 16mo, cloth gilt, gilt top, 
6s. net. 

" Mr. Webb's account of that unknown country is intimate 
faithful, and interesting. It is an attempt to convey a real know 
ledge of a striking people an admirably successful attempt." 
Morning Leader. 


imperial 16mo, cloth gilt, gilt top, with 31 full-page plate 
illustrations, 6s. net. 

" Mr. Berry so abundantly proves his ability to write of ' Germany 
of the Germans ' in an able and informing fashion that his book 
may be commended to the serious notice of British Germanophobes 
and Germanophiles. What he does is to state so far as can be done 
within the scope of a single handy volume, particulars of all aspects 
of life as lived in Germany to-day." Daily Telegraph. 

%* Other Volumes in this Series in preparation. 


The " All Red ' ' Series. 

Each volume is in demy 8vo, cloth gilt, red edges, with 16 full-page 
plate illustrations, maps, etc., 7s. 6d. net. 

RINGROSE WISE (formerly Attorney-General of New South Wales) 

" The ' All Red ' Series should become known as the Well-Read 
Series within a short space of time. Nobody is better qualified to 
write of Australia than the late Attorney- General of New South 
Wales, who knows the country intimately and writes of it with 
enthusiasm. It is one of the best accounts of the Island Continent 
that has yet been published. We desire to give a hearty welcome 
to this series." Globe. 

Bt., formerly Under- Secretary for Defence, New Zealand, and 
previously a Lieutenant, R.N. 

" Those who have failed to find romance in the history of the 
British Empire should read The Dominion of New Zealand, Sir 
Arthur Douglas contrives to present in the 444 pages of his book an 
admirable account of life in New Zealand and an impartial summary 
of her development up to the present time. It is a most alluring 
picture that one conjures up after reading it." Standard. 

Other volumes in preparation. 

lated from the French by R. LYDEKKER, F.R.S., and H. M. 
LYDEKKER. With 80 illustrations. In super royal 8vo, cloth gilt, 
8s. 6d. net. 

KNIGHTSBRIDGE AND BELGRAVIA. Their history, topography, 
and famous inhabitants. By E. BERESFORD CHANCELLOR. In 
super royal 8vo, cloth gilt, gilt top, with 20 illustrations, 20s. net. 


THE ENGLISH IN CHINA. (See page 11.) 




Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons, Ltd., have pleasure in calling attention to 

the following Catalogues of Books published by them. They will be 

pleased to send on application any of these Catalogues, all of which 

have been brought up to date. 

[B] PITMAN'S COMMERCIAL SERIES. A list of Books suitable for 

use in Evening Schools and Classes and for Reference in Business 
Houses. 40 pp. 

[C] PITMAN'S EDUCATIONAL BOOKS (Primary). Illustrated. 56pp. 

[D] Ditto, un-illustrated. 44 pp. 


and the Teacher. Illustrated. 20 pp. with Supplement. 

[F] SOME TEXT-BOOKS specially adapted for Evening and Com- 

mercial Schools. 24 pp. 






Specimens on Application (except " United Empire.") 

Any who may happen to be in the neighbourhood of St. Paul's 
Cathedral are cordially invited to visit Sir Isaac Pitman 4 Sons' Show 
Room, at 14 Warwick Lane, where their publications may be examined 
at leisure. 

.Sir Isaac Pitman So. J, IM.. / oW.. Bat* *d K.m York. 

Hutton, W H 
Archbishop Becket